Providers Must Plan Today for Tomorrow’s IoT Landscape

With personal and connected devices and 5G networks poised to change the industry in a big way, healthcare organizations should prioritize preparation.

Over the past few years, the healthcare industry has started a shift to paying providers based on care quality. As that change persists, episodic care management will steadily decrease, replaced with constant monitoring and reminders that help individuals maintain healthy habits. It won’t completely go away, of course, but the goal for providers will be to prevent ailments as much as possible, rather than treat them reactively. This especially will be true for patients with multiple chronic conditions.

Technology’s role in this process is critical and will continue to grow as time passes. Use of devices such as medical-grade wearables or connected scales and blood pressure cuffs — what Partners HealthCare Vice President of Connected Health Dr. Joseph Kvedar refers to as the Internet of Healthy Things — will expand as patients and providers become more comfortable with such setups.

VIDEO: We bust myths about IoT in healthcare!

Agile Development Facilitates Medical IoT

According to statistics published by Aruba, by 2019, 87 percent of healthcare organizations will have adopted IoT technology. More than half of the survey’s respondents (57 percent) believe IoT will not only increase workforce productivity, but also save costs. Twenty-seven percent predict such tools will improve collaboration with both colleagues and patients.

Christine Holloway
The advent of 5G networks is poised to have a major impact on the deployment and success of IoT in healthcare."

Christine Holloway Vice President, CDW Healthcare

First, however, providers must prepare accordingly, says David Frumkin, a digital business solution architect with CDW Healthcare, who shared insights at HIMSS 2018 about what organizations must do to capitalize on IoT. That means a deployment plan and an emphasis on a strong foundation.

“IoT needs to have agile development, because it’s a very fast-moving pace,” he says. “Going without a plan is planning to fail.”

Build a Strong IT Foundation for IoT

Infrastructure preparation, including network optimization, is especially key for reliability and consistency, Frumkin says. Organizations also must conduct skills assessments to ensure that end users and other IT staff will be ready to support such a strategy.

It’s not just the hardware that’s available in your environment; it’s, are people capable of dealing with it? Can they extend the technologies?” asks Frumkin.

The advent of 5G networks is poised to have a major impact on the deployment and success of IoT in healthcare, as well. A report published by the University of California, Berkeley says that 5G will be a substantial enabler of personalized healthcare. Report author Dr. David Teece of U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business says that 5G will, in essence, turn the IoT into a general-purpose technology.

With deployment on the horizon, organizations should begin laying the groundwork today, Frumkin says.

“IoT has the ability to transform your business and your business model,” he says. Frumkin likens the preparation process to training for a marathon, where a runner must start gradually. That should entail getting a proof of value to assess what’s possible within your particular space, and then moving fast toward adoption, he says.

IoT also can transform the patient care process as a whole. The potential exists for better resource and patient tracking, enabling providers to deploy tools or clinicians to the right place at the right time. It also means an improved ability to incorporate data on social determinants of health into the care process.

Providers that prioritize IoT planning now will avoid having to play catch-up with other organizations, patient preferences and industry trends later.

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Oct 19 2018