Wireless Medical Technology: The “Why” Is as Important as the “How”

medical-deviceThe Internet of Things (IoT) is taking hold in nearly every aspect of our lives. No longer are we content with simply connecting via a computer or mobile device. These days, our homes are filled with connected devices, all purporting to make our lives easier, more efficient, and in many cases, more entertaining.

However, the IoT’s creep isn’t limited only to our homes. One area where IoT is already taking hold and is expected to grow even more is in the health care industry. Often referred to as Medical IoT (or just connected medical devices), the adoption of connected devices is already at impressive levels and the trend is for even more devices to be accessible via the internet in the future.

For example, it’s not uncommon to find patients using wearable devices to collect and transmit data about their blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen rate to their physicians, or to find wireless devices within hospitals that automatically transmit patient vital signs and other monitoring data straight from the hospital room to hospital staff, no matter their location.  The assumption is that thanks to such continuous monitoring and real-time data, physicians can provide better quality care and improve patient outcomes.

Undoubtedly, the IoT certainly creates a great deal of opportunity within health care to deliver better outcomes. At the same time, though, there is also the question of the true value of connected devices in every circumstance. The fact is, while there is a certain “cool” factor associated with IoT technology, and a sense of wonder at the fact that a device can transmit data wirelessly, there is also a concern that developers will attempt to include connectivity just because they can. Unless the technology aligns with user expectations and behaviors, is reliable, and delivers actual meaningful outcomes — and doesn’t just add an unnecessary feature to the device — it is unlikely to be successful.

Therefore, when developing connected medical technology, it is just as important to consider why you are connecting it as it is to consider how you will connect it. Often, the how isn’t nearly as complicated as one might think, thanks to relatively inexpensive and widely available microcontrollers and applications. The why, on the other hand, is more complex, and requires developers to consider not only the potential benefits of connecting a medical device, but several other key points as well, among them the potential for data overload, the security of the devices, and addressing potential malfunction, to determine whether a device can benefit from connectivity.

Chief Concerns for Connected Medical Devices

While there are plenty of points to consider when developing any type of medical device, when the device is designed to be connected to the internet, there are additional things to think about.

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How the Internet of Things Will Reshape Healthcare: One Experience at a Time

Guest post by Puneet Gupta, chief technology officer, Brillio.

Puneet Gupta
Puneet Gupta

For those in the healthcare industry, the future feels at once full of promise and always just out of reach. Transformational advances in technology are on the horizon and fast approaching—but anticipating and adopting new tech can seem like an impossible task.

Perhaps the most promising tech trend for healthcare is the Internet of Things (IoT): the increasingly interconnected network of intelligent devices and objects that share data and enable the physical world to be integrated into digital systems.

While nearly every industry can employ IoT systems to create greater efficiencies and support new business models, the healthcare industry is particularly poised for major gains. According to a recent report, IoT in healthcare alone will be a $117 billion market by 2020.

IoT technology and digital integration has enormous potential to create meaningful experiences and better outcomes for patients, doctors, and healthcare professionals. And yet, amid all this promise, the current state of healthcare IoT leaves a lot to be desired.

How Healthcare Companies Need to Re-Imagine Change

Why is IoT adoption still lagging in the healthcare industry, despite all this potential? Many companies are simply thinking about technological change the wrong way.

Naturally, most people try to think about such changes from a 30,000-foot perspective. IoT is such a huge strategic transformation, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to begin.

I prefer to look at things differently. Instead of surveying major paradigm shifts from a million miles away, let’s flip the model and focus in on micro-experiences—small, concrete touch points along a user’s journey where technology can make a meaningful intervention.

By building from the ground up in real-world contexts—instead of from the top down in the abstract air—you’ll be able to quickly implement a number of IoT solutions and see the impact. Overarching systems will organically develop up over time as you create valuable micro-experiences on the ground.

While contemplating a global shift only generates new questions, breaking IoT down into bite-sized, tangible moments grounded in reality opens the door for immediate achievements. That’s what we call the art of the possible.

4 Examples of IoT Micro-Experiences in the Healthcare Industry

 In the spirit of focusing on context and individual instances, let’s look at four real examples of how we’ve deployed IoT micro-experiences in healthcare.

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