In an ever-growing digital world, patients have access to a plethora of information, via the internet, regarding the disease they are experiencing, thus leading to more involved patients across the journey of care. The global patient care pathway encompasses 4 major steps: Prevention, Diagnosis, Therapy and Follow-up, and each of these steps plays a role in patient health outcomes.
As patients are increasingly involved in their health, they are looking for means to qualify and quantify their current condition ; Internet of Thing’s (IoT) solutions represent an opportunity to achieve this purpose. While patients are shifting their mind from ‘cure’ to ‘care’ and asking for an enhanced ‘patient experience’, healthcare organizations (manufacturers of medical devices / pharmaceuticals, hospitals, etc.) are looking to develop digital patient services in the therapeutical area in which they are operating, thus shifting their business model from ‘drug-centricity’ to ‘patient-centricity’.
Patient-designed services encompass many types of initiatives including IoT solutions. As a result, the IoT market in healthcare is expected to reach 16.5M connected devices in 2020 , to offer a wide range of functionalities to patients and healthcare practitioners (HCPs). These functionalities range from the simple activity tracker to the implanted artificial organ; the below classification may be used depending on the nature and the application of IoT devices.
These different classes of IoT will then be found throughout the patient journey with an uneven concentration of IoT typology depending on the stage of the journey; whilst wearables would mainly be used for prevention and follow-up purposes, invasive devices are reserved for therapeutic use only as surgery is required to implant them into the human body.
It is therefore critical for any organization interested in developing IoT devices to carefully define the type and the purpose of the device as the target population and regulatory constraints will be different from one type of device to another. Healthcare IoT devices have many applications: remote patient monitoring, hospital length of stay reduction through home care development, and enhanced disease knowledge for research & development through data collection and analysis.
With data acquisition comes the questions of storage and confidentiality, especially when the data are related to healthcare. In the common IoT scheme proposed below, the sensor acquires data which are usually sent onto a platform to be analyzed and converted into insights and even actions for implanted devices.
Patients then have the possibility to share their data with relevant HCPs for an accurate assessment of therapeutic options and better overall disease management, or to only have AI-powered insights on their medical conditions. Health insurances are also showing a growing interest in this technology as it may enforce treatment compliance and provide specific services such as telemedicine for targeted patients, thus leading to improved care and reduced healthcare costs.3 As personal data management is becoming more and more regulated, entities developing and making use of IoT technology must emphasize that patients must consent to the acquisition, analysis and sharing of their data while providing a secure framework for data transit and storage.