Examining Connected Healthcare


M2M devices are making inroads in healthcare, affecting seemingly every aspect of the patient experience. As more hospitals and clinics see the benefits of connectivity for health, organizations are also trying to quantify the outcomes. New studies are looking at M2M and how it impacts healthcare.

The Center for Connected Health, www.connected-health.org, recently explored how wireless devices can benefit patients. A study compared patients who used wireless mobiles devices to collect and transmit their data with patients who used a telephone modem-based device. The results show patients using the wireless devices more frequently measured their blood pressure and uploaded their data.

Researchers say this shows wireless devices are more user-friendly than modem-based devices. Dr. Kamal Jethwani, corporate manager, Research and Innovation, Center for Connected Health, says, “Key success factors for wireless devices include ease-of-use, realtime transmission of data, and increased device portability within patients’ homes.”

Patients using the wireless devices engaged more frequently with the system, and they uploaded their data more times per day than the modem-based group. After uploading, the information is processed and displayed via a secure Web portal. This allows patients to view their data and monitor trends throughout the course of time.

Mobile health, or mhealth, can lead to cost savings and less time in the hospital for patients. This is especially true for patients with chronic conditions that may require frequent monitoring. Juniper Research, www.juniperresearch.com, predicts cumulative cost savings from remote patient monitoring could reach up to $36 billion globally throughout the next five years.

The analyst firm explains this market is still in an early stage, but its goal of keeping patients out of the hospital is a key area of focus for providers. A combination of smartphones, mhealth attachment devices, and related apps could offer new ways for patients to track their conditions and transfer the information.

Juniper Research says Western Europe will be the most promising new market for cardiac outpatient monitoring after the U.S. Additionally, devices for the fitness industry will represent a significant market, as they are driven by a motivated base of users and the field of products continues to grow.

But a challenge for the mhealth field is the issue of reimbursement, says Juniper. Across the connected healthcare landscape, the question of how providers will be reimbursed for services continues to feature prominently in the debate.

New studies continue to test the efficacy of connected health systems. Back in October 2012, the STSI (Scripps Translational Science Institute), www.stsiweb.org, received $3.75 million from the Qualcomm Foundation, www.qualcomm.com, for clinical trials of digital technologies. Now, the Institute has announced Steven Steinhubl, M.D., has been named director of the Digital Medicine program at Scripps Health. In this role he will lead the scientific evaluation of mobile health devices and apps, says STSI.

The organization says the work will focus on the mobile health industry, providing clinical validation that can help both providers and insurers become more comfortable with mhealth technologies.

With the connected healthcare industry seeing a combination of new products and new studies to test and promote their use, the field seems poised for growth.

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June/July 2014
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