Benefits of Connected Health

| September 7, 2022

By KORE–Connected health promises a myriad of benefits to providers, payers, and patients alike — which is certainly helping drive adoption. While some of the benefits may be specific to certain use cases, such as PERS/mPERS versus connected clinical trials, there are a number of broad benefits that can be seen across the spectrum of connected health use cases.

Cambridge Consultants and MassMEDIC conducted a study that included conversations with providers, patients, payers, and the technology industry and published the most commonly reported benefits of connected health technology. Among the top benefits were better management of diseases, reduction of medical errors, and patients and caregivers taking more responsibility for their health2.

Some of the other value drivers in connected health are clinical impacts such as health outcomes; non-clinical patient impacts such as patient experience and patient economics; revenue and cost impacts; and the impact on public and population health3. The benefits of connected health are multi-faceted from the provider, payer, and patient sides. Patient outcomes improve, the collection and availability of data create a more robust monitoring solution, and the financial benefits are clear — resulting in significantly improved ROI.

Market Trends and Opportunities

The demand for wearable medical devices and connected health solutions is expected to increase significantly because of the shifting consumer preferences towards living a healthier lifestyle. Additionally, an uptick in chronic diseases that require continuous monitoring is contributing to the steady growth of IoT-enabled remote patient monitoring technology solutions1.

How has the industry shifted in response to the increased demand for connected health solutions and the need for new models of healthcare delivery and maintenance? According to a 2018 report from the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, 51% of connected health companies are implementing new business models to a large extent, such as expanding telemedicine, adopting remote patient monitoring, or decentralizing clinical trials3.

According to a recent McKinsey report, healthcare professionals (HCPs) now see between 50 and 175 times the number of patients virtually than before the COVID-19 pandemic. With the increase in virtual visits, 74 percent of telehealth users reported high levels of satisfaction and 64 percent of HCPs expressed comfort using the tools and systems4.

…51% of connected health companies are implementing new business models to a large extent, such as expanding telemedicine, adopting remote patient monitoring, or decentralizing clinical trials3.

Barriers to Connected Health Adoption

The 5 Roadblocks to Success for Connected Health Solutions

An IoT infrastructure is comprised of many moving parts that need to communicate optimally to be effective. These are the top five areas within an IoT infrastructure where the greatest challenges are likely to occur:

1. Hardware

Typically, a medical solutions provider will have a medical device they want to bring to market or a packaged solution such as a Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) kit which includes a medical sensor in the form of a pendant or a watch. The device then needs gateways or routers to transmit the data between the device and the cloud. The data transmission needs to be incredibly reliable and secure, so a purpose-built hardware solution is critical in keeping communications efficient, as well as costs managed. Sensors that support the device also fall under hardware procurement consideration.

2. Connectivity

Communicating health data is critical and gaps in connectivity can either range from troublesome to threatening, depending on the patient or use case. The solution at hand really depends on what kind of connectivity is needed, and therein lies a problem. For many connected health solutions providers, managing the IoT infrastructure is too large a task, because the connectivity ecosystem is wide and fragmented.

First, different solutions might need different connectivity – whether it is short range (Bluetooth or Bluetooth Low Energy [BLE]), low power wide area (NB-IoT, LTE-M, LoRaWAN), or cellular (4G LTE or 5G). Once deciding the network connectivity, solutions providers need to select a carrier, and oftentimes, it is more than one carrier. If it is a global deployment, carrier selection becomes more complicated. Managing multiple carriers results in several contracts; billing and usage systems; and – if anything goes wrong, like an outage – support systems. With global connectivity, roaming and international usage complicate management further.

One other consideration in building the connectivity arm of healthcare solutions is eSIM. Medical devices have a low tolerance for “going dark,” so having a connectivity technology that can remotely switch carriers in the event of an outage, or if there are carrier or network changes – such in the case of upcoming 3G network sunsets, can be highly beneficial.

eSIM also helps solution providers achieve out-of-the-box connectivity that helps time to market, as well as make global deployments simpler.

3. Data Telemetry and Mobile Device Management

Transmitting data from patient to provider is not a simple task. A lot of times, it requires a lot of complex systems integrations that can create significant lag in time-to-market. Connectivity should tie together with pre-integrated, remotely paired sensors and gateways to allow for secure data transmission that uses your own encryption keys. Successfully connecting and deploying hundreds or thousands of IoT devices requires expertise in procurement, certification, mobile device management (MDM), and testing that most companies simply cannot achieve with internal resources alone.

4. Logistics and Solutions Management

The logistics and management side of an IoT infrastructure is not something to overlook when building out solutions. Effective and efficient configuration, kitting, shipping, and returns management are crucial in connected health solutions. Whether it is equipping hospitals, medical practices, clinics, or direct to patient, getting solutions deployed and running out-of-the-box is incredibly important.

5. Regulatory Compliance

If creating IoT solutions was not complicated enough, the nature of medical solutions requiring regulatory compliance and adding security and privacy to communication furthers the challenge. Data communications and storage need to be compliant, as well as medical devices and equipment. This regulatory compliance covers handling, shipping, and management.

While connected health adoption is experiencing a period of accelerated growth, thanks in large part to the shifting consumer/patient preferences and the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still a number of concerns in the healthcare industry that are holding back adoption. According to a Future Health Index report from Phillips, the cost of devices is the most perceived barrier to connected technology adoption from healthcare professionals5.

Other top reported barriers to connected health adoption include privacy/data security concerns, health system bureaucracy, training patients to use new technologies, the attitude of patients to adopt new technologies, trust in the accuracy of data collected by the devices, government regulation, and confidence that patients and providers can understand the data collected by devices.

Industry Segments and Use Cases

In the period of rapid innovation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing a handful of exciting and innovative use cases for connected health technology that are driving positive outcomes for patients and providers alike. Many of these top use cases are found in three primary industry segments: decentralized clinical trials, remote patient monitoring, and mPERS.

Decentralized Clinical Trials

Decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) are those which are executed using processes and technologies that differ from the traditional clinical trial model. DCTs can be either hybrid, which include the use of connected devices for data collection and onsite clinical visits, or fully virtual, in which all data is collected via connected devices and visits are conducted remotely via tele

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), decentralized clinical trials “can help clinical trials become more agile and efficient by reducing administrative burdens on sponsors and those conducting trials, and can allow patients to receive treatments from community providers without compromising the quality of the trial or the integrity of the data that’s being collected6.” Some benefits of connected health specific to DCTs are improved patient recruitment and retention, data accuracy, and faster time-to-market.

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) typically refers to the use of connected devices and mobile technology to monitor patients outside of the conventional clinical setting. The use of RPM increases access to healthcare while decreasing delivery costs, and in cases such as chronic disease management often improves the patient’s quality of life through increased freedom and mobility, comfort, accessibility, timely intervention, and lower costs.

Some benefits of connected health specific to DCTs are improved patient recruitment and retention, data accuracy, and faster time-to-market.

Some interesting and successful use cases of RPM include wireless solutions for home dialysis and cardiac rhythm monitors, continuous glucose monitoring solutions, and even in-hospital monitoring of COVID-19 patients, which reduces the exposure of healthcare professionals while limiting the use of valuable PPE materials. Other benefits for the providers — beyond just pandemic safety — are evergreen revenue, lower overhead costs, and access to more patients.

Mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems (mPERS)

Mobile personal emergency response system (mPERS) refers to wearable, pushbutton devices and call center services that allow aging adults to signal the need for immediate attention and call for help regardless of their location. mPERS solutions are powered by wireless connectivity and are popular among older populations as it seems less intrusive and complicated than other commercially available wearable devices, such as smartwatches.

As the adoption of medical technology, smartphones, and wearable devices increases among the elderly, solution providers are looking to stay competitive through innovation and advancement in technology. Because of this, we expect to see more attractive device form factors, improved battery life, advanced sensors for things like fall detection and sleep patterns, and innovative app development coming in the near future for mPERS devices. The benefits of mPERS solutions for older adults to feel secure while retaining their independence.

Connected Health Enablement

One thing that is true across all industry segments is that deploying connected health solutions is exceptionally complex. The Internet of Things (IoT) technology that powers connected health is not simple or straightforward, as evidenced by the fact that nearly 75% of IoT projects fail7. One way that solution providers are finding success is by partnering with IoT experts and connected health enablers who can handle the entire lifecycle of connected devices.

IoT managed services providers like KORE, who specialize in connected health solutions, handle the majority of steps required for a successful IoT deployment, including hardware sourcing, connectivity, provisioning, kitting, shipping, warehousing, and reverse logistics. KORE holds certifications and registrations that demonstrate a commitment to regulatory compliance, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 quality management, FDA registration, and more. KORE takes care of all the complex technology and logistical details so that solution providers can focus explicitly on their specific use case and end-user experience.

About KORE

KORE is a pioneering leader and trusted advisor that helps deliver transformative business performance from IoT solutions. We help customer organizations of all sizes navigate the complexities of IoT and improve execution, so they can focus on operational and business results. Our IoT expertise and experience, global reach, independence, and deployment agility accelerate and materially improve our customers’ return on their IoT investments.

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