IoT Industry Transformation Series: Connecting Healthcare to the Internet

Posted by on Apr 23, 2015, 2:11:00 PM Olivier Coutand  
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Here is the first of a blog series focusing on innovations across various markets leveraging the Internet of Things. Over the last years, the power of the Internet of Things to radically transform decade old industries has been the subject of many discussions. As opportunities have now flourished and are transforming into market-ready products, we believe it’s the perfect time to start a series of posts that will shed more light on how these industries are reinventing themselves with innovative use cases and what technological or business issues they are currently addressing.

Certainly one of the industries that will be the most profoundly impacted over the next 10 years by the access to new data from interconnected devices is healthcare. In fact, McKinsey forecasted that not less than 40 percent of the economic impact resulting from the Internet of Things by 2025 will come from the healthcare sector.

This impact might not be perceivable during your regular visits to your physicians quite yet. But the medical world is already benefiting from the development of a new breed of healthcare solutions which - by integrating IoT technologies - provide doctors and medical staff with an unprecedented access to patient data.

Think about Resmed, a leading manufacturer of products for the treatment of sleep disorders, and particularly sleep apnea. For years, Resmed has been developing devices that provide ventilator assistance overnight. But by integrating IoT technology in their latest sleep apnea devices, Resmed is now enabling a seamless connection between patients and physicians. Customer data, including respiratory effort, pulse, oxygen saturation, nasal flow, and snoring, can be collected overnight and reported daily to doctors or sleep labs. Physicians have then access almost in real-time to patient data for faster diagnostics and day-to-day monitoring. And sleep labs can easily move a patient through testing and onto therapy from the comfort of his home.

Another very interesting application is being developed by the San Diego based startup Astute Medical. Astute is addressing the risk assessment of acute kidney injury (AKI), a condition that can result in kidney failure, and is offering a test device relying on biomarkers, i.e. the measurement of biological indicators to detect AKI at a stage where syndromes on the kidney are not readily observable. By connecting their AKI meter devices with cellular connectivity, Acute allows results from patient samples to be immediately transmitted to a connected laboratory information system to be processed and analyzed by physicians and medical teams. Detecting the kidney injury at a still early stage allows for earlier, potentially less intrusive treatments and can significantly reduce the consequence of the injury on patients’ health.

These two companies provide great examples of how the Internet of Things brings key value to both mature and fully innovative solutions in healthcare. By granting medical teams with access to up-to-date, almost real-time, accurate patient data, IoT has the potential to unleash new benefits for patients and physicians, such as the earlier detection and treatment of chronic disease or conditions, the comfort of patients in treatment, as well as the decrease in healthcare provision costs.