IDC expects that much of the Internet of Things (IoT) potential to empower hospitals, other healthcare providers and patients in their decision making will materialize in the next few years, and it will be driven by major developments in IoT platforms and advanced analytics.
With these tools, the vast amount of data generated by endpoints can be gathered, analysed and turned into clinical value. IoT platforms are evolving rapidly, and their architecture is becoming increasingly sophisticated. At a basic level, these products connect devices, collect and manage vast amounts of data, and expose new insights to healthcare providers’ backend systems or to third parties. Their ability to support the development of new applications that can underpin better and faster decision making is crucial.
IoT in healthcare has been developed mainly to target a single area of the hospital, and data is not yet aggregated and reused to support new use cases. Overall, hospitals’ use of IoT can be divided into four main areas:
- Building management
- Clinical care
The adoption of use cases in each of the main areas leans heavily towards logistics and building management, accounting for 64% of the main adopted use cases. Clinical care accounts for 19% and telemedicine has an adoption percentage of only 16%. It is obvious that IoT has not yet gained the necessary clinical traction nor had the impact on the hospitals’ core capabilities (treatment and care). IDC survey data from 2016, however, indicates that clinical care and telemedicine are growing.
Healthcare providers should consider several areas before investing in an enterprisewide IoT platform.
- Integrate IoT solutions within the rest of the ICT infrastructure inside the hospital using a modular and incremental approach. It is the IoT platform that will communicate and integrate with other digital transformation initiatives such as mobility, cloud and Big Data. Having a purpose-built platform in an ivory tower will not help hospitals in the long run — it will only create a silo that will need to be dismantled at some point.
- The openness of the architecture of an IoT platform. Sensor independence is extremely important, so healthcare providers should be ready to invest in their IoT infrastructures and platforms to add new technologies and sensors when they are needed.
ICT vendors have several opportunities in the IoT platform space in healthcare, as a sensor manufacturer, systems integrator or application developer. There are some recommendations that are common for all vendors and should be considered before engaging with the IoT healthcare market:
- Partnerships between vendors across the IoT architecture are important for success. Vendors should identify the right partners and create an ecosystem of solutions and technologies that hospitals and other healthcare providers can adopt.
- Start small, think big. Most hospitals cannot afford to invest in an enterprisewide IoT infrastructure for RFID. ICT vendors should therefore address single use cases, but prepare the value proposition for expansion across logistics, building management, clinical care and telemedicine. ICT vendors should target clinical leadership, logistics management (depending on use cases), CIOs and top-level executives in the hospital with go-to-market initiatives.