Of all the industry segments poised for transformation by the Internet of Things, healthcare is at the top of the heap. According to a new report by Mind Commerce, the use of IoT is expected to grow fastest in healthcare over the next five years, to the tune of $117 billion by 2020. A healthy chunk of those revenues will be recurring, largely because the healthcare market relies heavily on recurring payment models to begin with, and, more importantly, because IoT services are often priced on a usage and consumption basis.
Here’s a look at just some of the areas where machine-to-machine technology and cloud computing are reshaping medical care and where recurring monetization is likely to flourish.
Personal wearable fitness gadgets like Jawbone are the rage these days. But for all their flash, their capabilities pale in comparison to their medical counterparts. Wearable IoT devices are able to monitor a vast range of health markers, including heart rhythms, brainwaves, breathing patterns, temperature, blood pressure, footsteps, physical position and balance, to name just a few. For example, the AliveCor wireless heart monitor helps patients manage cardiac conditions on their own. Recurring revenues from such services often come in the form of consumption- or subscription-based fees for data analysis.
The doctor can see you now — from anywhere
With advancements in telemedicine, videoconferencing and the Internet of Things, healthcare professionals can interact with patients virtually from anywhere, eliminating the travel time required to see patients in person. For instance, a HealthSpot station can turn available space in retail locations like drugstores into a virtual doctor’s office. Each kiosk comes equipped with sensors that measure bodyweight, temperature, blood pressure and other vital signs, as well as video cameras for interacting remotely with attending physicians. Sessions are billed on a flat pay-per-use basis and are covered by insurance the same as any other doctor’s appointment.
Capturing and understanding digital medical data
In the course of their stay, hospital patients may be hooked up to a plethora of medical devices and equipment such as heart monitors, IVs, respirators and blood pumps. Traditionally, recording information from these devices has been a time-draining and error-prone task for caregivers.
In an IoT world, patient data is transmitted to electronic health record (EHR) systems automatically, increasing accuracy and allowing nurses to spend more time providing care.
Doctors still have to make sense of all that data, however, something that’s becoming much harder to do as medical devices proliferate. That’s where IoT solutions like Capsule Technologie come in. They allow health practitioners to merge IoT data from vastly different medical devices and quickly gain insights into the health of patients they would otherwise miss with information scattered across fragmented systems. Data integration services like these typically rely on a mix of usage and subscription-based payment mechanisms.
Helping hospitals run smarter
The Internet of Things holds the key to helping hospitals run more efficiently, while vastly improving the quality of care they provide. For example, each year more than 2 million patients catch infections during hospital stays. A leading culprit is poor hand sanitation. Enter intelligent hygiene systems like nGage. These solutions use proximity sensors that are built into hand sanitation dispensers, worn by medical staff and located throughout patient areas. Discrete alarms ensure that everyone washes their hands before coming in contact with patients. IoT services like these are strong candidates for recurring billing because they’re designed for pervasive and ongoing use.
Other IoT-connected systems, like one from GE Healthcare, offer holistic solutions that encompass entire hospital operations. They combine smart sensors, location-based tracking, wireless technology and cloud computing to optimize the flow of all patients, staff members, equipment and medical supplies hospital wide. Due to their complexity, these solutions encompass the full gamut of monetization strategies — from one-time payments to usage to subscription services.
We’ve barely scratched the surface in exploring the ways that IoT is profoundly changing healthcare. And those changes are only just beginning. Increasingly, the tremendous benefits IoT brings to health services will be purchased on a repeating basis — from treating chronic conditions like heart disease to helping healthcare professionals provide better care for all their patients day in and day out.