What does the ‘newer and never-seen-and-used-before’ data from the Internet of Things (IoT) promise for the healthcare industry?
Certainly, it provides smarter decision models to go beyond traditional reporting and analytics. Enhanced supply chain efficiencies is another positive benefit. But the most exciting potential of IoT is in how it can give a better understanding of consumers.
- Let us look at some of the devices that generate user data
- Internally embedded medical devices that use proprietary transmission protocols to provide richer health information
- External medical devices, portable and stationary, which transmit, monitor and regulate patient medical information
IoT’s potential and promise open the door to powerful contextual analysis and insights. No longer is data the ‘post-facto’ information limited to the treatment of a specific person of interest. No longer is its use constrained to continuous monitoring and additional diagnosis. Thanks to IoT, we now have access to huge volumes of real-time data, not only of patients, but also of healthy individuals from across the globe. Combined with traditional medical data, it provides a 360-degree view that healthcare players can leverage invisibly and with minimal disruption to make impactful decisions.
Predictive Alerts for Prevention
Key body vitals reported by wearable devices can be combined with local and external parameters (time, weather) to design advanced analytical models. These models can predict and prevent events such as strokes and heart attacks with confidence and accuracy.
By mapping the wearable device’s information to specific threshold levels, monitoring systems can send alerts regarding medication dosage to users or their caregivers. This can also help doctors and pharma companies make better decisions on adjusting dosages or changing the medication itself.
Understanding the Efficacy and Risks of Drugs
During clinical trials, wearable and embedded medical devices can help trial administrators understand the efficacy and risks of specific drugs better. They can also have a greater understanding of a subject’s response. It enables them to take proactive action when a potential negative outcome is identified or predicted.
A Holistic View for Better Decisions
Data from similar subjects can be contextualized with demographic parameters to predict how viral a disease could be, assess the market size for a therapy area, track patient journey and outcomes for research studies. Such studies have significant impact on many commercial decisions taken by companies, and also by government-owned health departments for resource allocation, etc.
The IoT Promise Has Challenges Too
By design and intent, IoT devices capture and transmit data in real-time. The infrastructure to receive and process this data should therefore be designed and built for scale — to receive, process and store real-time data from millions of devices, and apply analytical models to derive quick insights.
But most IoT devices that report healthcare data suffer from lack of data standards or protocols. Additionally, significant ambiguity shrouds the issues of privacy and data ownership regulations. Given these constraints, do organizations want to host this large infrastructure on their premises? Or would it serve them better to focus on opportunities and engage data partners to host and manage the platforms?
To partner or not? It could very well turn out be a million-dollar question.