SHOWCASE FEATURE: Patient Solutions

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Taren Grom, Editor

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Patient solutions can be as varied as the different stages of the disease “journey” that patients are experiencing: beginning with the first symptoms, continuing to diagnosis, then to treatment choice and optimization and eventually the improved life with disease. Additionally, all of those steps and stages are different from one disease to another one.

Some patient solutions are tools to help the patient remember to take his medicines, tools to help the patient track how he is feeling so that he can share an accurate report with his healthcare giver (physician, nurse, pharmacist, etc), or tools to help educate the community about a certain disease so that patients might understand their disease earlier. For example, UCB provides special or different packaging of its products for patients, or alternatives to picking up medicine at the pharmacy.

An illustrative example of a tool developed by UCB is its Parkinson’s disease Well-Being Map. It is a simple and easy-to-use visual scale used to objectify and monitor both motor and non-motor symptoms by the patients. The map helps them to assess their health status, facilitate communication with their doctor, and make the most of limited time available during consultation.

Internet of Everything

With the rise of smart mobile devices and cloud computing, the Internet of Everything (IoE) has exploded — and now, in the healthcare space, according to Qualcomm Life, it is the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) that is gaining traction.

mHealth apps, activity trackers such as FitBit, and connected medical devices such as weight scales or blood pressure monitors are creating a mainstream push for this connected movement. Yet the IoMT still differs from the Internet of Everything in that it affects patients’ health, patients’ longevity, and patients’ quality of life as well as that of their families.

Like all patient-based tools and solutions there are a myriad of challenges surrounding the IoMT. As consumer-driven healthcare takes hold, the IoMT has to have a draw for consumers that is an instant and ongoing gratification.
Qualcomm analysts relay that the reality is that health is often neglected; busy lives get in the way of wellness, prevention, and the opportunity for early diagnosis. The average consumer will invest more time setting up their smart device or TV than on a connected medical device. Additionally, all stakeholders are looking for net incremental value from the IoMT — providers and payers will challenge IoMT to improve outcomes and supplant existing healthcare encounters. For those that recognize and tackle these challenges head-on, the promise of the IoMT is immense.

In fact, according to Qualcomm Life, the healthcare Internet of Things is expected to reach $117 billion by 2020 and healthcare will be the highest segment for the IoT growth.

While still a fairly nascent category, Qualcomm Life defines the IoMT as a digital ecosystem of connected and diverse, medically related things that enable transferring, sharing, and using data over a network with a goal of optimizing care pathways and delivering the right care, at the right time, at the right location. The fabric of this ecosystem will integrate stakeholders and create a connected interdependent environment for exchanging services and knowledge. This integration and recent advances in natural human interfaces, wearable devices, sensors, and smart medical devices will allow machines to be an integral team member in the delivery of care to a consumer.

The IoMT has the potential to make “care anywhere” a reality by connecting and integrating a wide range of devices, wearables, sensors and implantables, which will generate an enormous amount of personalized small data. The IoMT pioneers are demonstrating how embedded analytics outside the traditional enterprise (a hospital) will be able to collect, cleanse, classify, and synthesize data to reveal big insights. These insights will enable providers and patients to see patterns and trends.

Analysts predict that “things” health-related will be connected — from people’s DNA sequence to their electronic medical record to their FitBit data; healthcare will no longer be a linear journey, but care will become three-dimensional, delivered to patients in a personalized, convenient manner, anytime, anywhere. The IoMT will know a patient, and it will allow for cognitive learning of the IoMT through the small personalized data that are collected and analyzed near real time. This hyper-personalization will help make care more dynamic and treatments and therapies more specific and efficacious.

The positive impacts that the IoMT will have on patients, providers, and healthcare system globally are vast. Ultimately, the need for physical clinics or hospitals will be reduced. There will be less dependence on physician visits and consults as data can flag exceptions and recommend patient-activated or machine interventions. It will bring better care for seniors and people in remote areas with improved care access, and will address healthcare inequality by reducing costs associated with in-person visits, hospitalizations and medication errors.

In the end, the IoMT will allow patients to heal and age while at home, reduce the burden on the healthcare system and unlock the power of self-care where patients will be informed and engaged in their own care.

For the IoMT to become a reality, there will need to be a de-siloing of the industry, and companies will need to embrace a new business culture. The success of the IoMT will hinge on leaders and their companies embracing a cooperative, interdependent way of developing connected solutions. Companies will quickly realize that success in the new ecosystem depends on how well we can co-create value. (PV)

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