A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with high deficiency of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D3. His body was so deficient in these nutrients that these had to be injected in his body for immediate replenishment. However, after two months I met this techie, who had badly neglected his health a while ago only to realize that he had found himself a partner to not only help him return to the pink of his health but also support in leading a healthy lifestyle. Now this partner wasn’t a wife or some caretaker, it was his smartphone connected to an array of sensors and smart devices that helped him keep track of his well-being.
For those to whom this example didn’t sound like much, diapers that detect urinary tract infections; pills that share data with your doctors after intake, monitoring machines that inform parents of their baby’s wellbeing might amaze you.
A survey by PwC in US claims that in 82% healthcare organizations CEOs are actively using IT to build their strategy and achieve their goals. In order to represent and fulfill the requirements of a patient-centric service provider, one needs to get cordial with the world of IoT.
The self-aware and tech-savvy patients of the digital era are looking for the fastest and compact (in terms of size) solutions that can help them stay connected with their health-related information. Internet of Things popular as IoT, has made it easy for patients and caregivers to access a wide-range of data and services through a few clicks.
Mobile Health or mHealth has revolutionized the scenario; helping users embrace tech innovations and adopt a statistical approach that helps them take better fitness related decisions.
The healthcare industry is currently the target market of almost every other sector. Here are a few instances:
- Nike introduced the Fuelband in 2012 to make its vent; ever since then we have seen its invention being even more closely connected to the healthcare industry
- Fitbit and Jawbone are also closing in with their in-demand wearable devices.
- Not to forget Apple and Google are also in the race and have already established a vital connection between their techs and healthcare.
- The Google Contact Lens with its miniscule glucose meter for measuring sugar level in your body, is expected to get a better response than Google Glass.
- As for Apple the launch of HealthKit last year was the indication that the carpet has been spread for Apple Watch and the fact that Apple was going to make its way for the fitness industry.
How is IoT Revamping the Healthcare Industry
Not limiting the connection between healthcare industry and digital transformation to digitization of records and the launch of a series of wearables, which include wristbands, eye lenses, watches, RIFD (Radio Frequency Identification) gears and more; there is more that has been included in the realm.
Analytics as small as the regular physical workout of your body, calorie intake etc. has become a vital part of the users’ daily routine. Let’s go through the below mentioned points to get an in-depth understanding of how IOT and healthcare can have a seamless connection in the near future.
1. The Importance of Internet of Things Analytics (IoTA)
Various gears, devices and sensors are being used to collect massive amount of medical records. This data further needs to be analysed such that it can be brought to some productive use. In case of IoT with the digitization of these statistics, on one hand it has become easier to quantify and examine it to take well-informed decisions.
An example of which is, an alarming situation for CMOs when they learn that not only is there a competition in the launch of digital healthcare products but also the fact that users are losing interest in these technologies because of their rising expectations. A survey carried out last year by PwC’s Health Research Initiative (HRI) showed that amongst 1000 buyers of wearable devices in US, 52% did not use it regularly, while 10% in this 520 people had absolutely abandoned the devices.
Now taking a more individual approach, the digital reports of your regular health check-ups, the data of your physical activities, blood pressure, blood sugar level etc. collected on a regular basis will help the medical practitioner scrutinise which chronic disease can affect you, hence prescribe precautionary measures.
Moreover, the Internet of Things have empowered the consumers with more information about themselves and hence they expect more accountable consultation and treatment from doctors.
Based on the IBM Global CEO study in the year 2010, 93% healthcare providers agreed that information and analytics will be the biggest factor to play a pivotal role in the industry in the next five years.
2. Connecting with the Customers at Different Touch Points
As IoT is helping the healthcare industry get in the predictive analysis mode, an immense change has been noticed in the doctor-patient interactions and relations. The patient behaviour and journey plays a critical role in their ability to bond and stay connected with the IoT. As the application of marketing strategies have intensified in the healthcare sector, the patient engagement model is being given priority to understand the methodologies of enhancing the customer experience.
Considering the various consumer touch points in the IoT model, there are numerous touch points.
- Beginning with your regular search on the internet pertaining to diseases or their symptoms are the first contact you make with the digital world.
- The applications on your mobile devices monitoring how many steps you walked in a day, your water and food (calories and nutrients) intake, even your heartbeat in different situations.
- It is also about how much are you connected with your doctor and medical consultants through your phone; for instance sharing of medical reports and prescriptions and even sending an SOS to your nearest hospital or family members.
- The swelling usage of sensors and RFIDs by the consumers is also critical to customer touch point.
The various motives of your customers to turn towards IoT for health:
3. Providing Remote Monitoring Facilities
For patients that need specialized care and constant supervision, the remote monitoring has proved a boon. IoT has made it possible for to have real-time access to the patient records and even monitor their health conditions through connected devices and gadgets.
Even for medical practitioners it is easier now to provide consultations and advices on the go. One of the challenges in this area is the rising need for applications that can sufficiently support the quantum of increasing devices and facilities for this purpose.
Also considering the sharing of data on quantitative grounds and confidentiality, secured sharing has become another issue that needs critical attention. Since we are dealing here with multiple devices, it is essential that a multi-tenanted and highly scalable platform should be chosen to ensure uninterrupted flow of services.
4. Helping in the Adoption of Preventive Measures
The foremost satisfaction of customer experience in case of digital healthcare has been felt in providing timely aid that averts a life-threatening situation. Most users of IoT are young people who are also more aware of and all set to adopt healthy lifestyle and preventive measure to keep chronic diseases at bay.
And if we take a broad overview of the applications and gadgets being introduced as a part of IoT for healthcare sector, they are mostly those which advocate and spread alertness towards precautionary measures against health issues.
The curative care model is the base of today’s digital healthcare mechanism. First a person is informed about the symptoms his body is beginning to show, through searches and studies; then he gets in touch with a doctor, after which an appointment is scheduled. Following the diagnosis stage he is in the medication and following of healthy regime stage, by this time all the data related to his medical history has been stored in the cloud somewhere and he will be directed towards related measures in his daily life from now on. Also the reminders of your daily dosage, through sensors or electronic pill dispensers will become a part of your daily routine, as you head towards the maintaining your own wellbeing stage.
5. Aiding in the Patient Engagement and Retention Process
User experience in case of IoT healthcare is of utmost importance, especially because the users here are often aged patients who are not so tech-friendly. Also considering the remote monitoring facility we discussed earlier, the need to create a platform that is scalable and intuitive is being felt by most CIOs. For customer retention you need to make sure that you have analysed the patient’s history so deeply that you are able to present the instinctive data and consultation to them, helping build more dependency as well as trust.
When the healthcare service provider reaches the patient before they contact them or before the emergency stage arrives, it helps the patient place their trust in the hands of the specialist.
Even as we hear and talk about the much discussed Obama Healthcare Plans or the Healthcare Reforms being discussed in most countries across the world; the need to embrace a healthy lifestyle is being felt and integrated at an almost equal pace.
The increase in life expectancy rate and the rising demographics across the world have made it imperative for people to embrace the most suitable solutions that lead to a healthy life. The trick here is that options are many but few will be preferred and they will be the providers of the best customer experience.