The Promise of Connected Health

12/20/2013

Connected devices and M2M technology can be about more than fun and games or even managing the bottomline. In the case of connected health, these devices can mean the difference between life and death. Even in less-extreme cases, M2M-enabled health devices and solutions can improve the quality of someone’s life by making it easier to manage his or her own health and to connect with professionals when needed.

Connected health is often flagged as a top area of potential growth in the M2M space; so where is the industry now, and where is it headed? Olivier Beaujard, vice president of market development for Sierra Wireless, www.sierrawireless.com, says it’s clear there is a lot of innovation taking place worldwide, with new ideas for products and solutions being introduced constantly. Even so, he says, roadblocks remain.

While it is positive for the market that both well-established medical companies and smaller startups are coming out with new products and solutions, this upwelling is contributing to fragmentation within the industry as a whole. “What you see is a combination of solutions aimed at consumers and focused on general wellbeing and fitness, and others that are built more around medical monitoring,” Beaujard says. “The majority of these medical devices tend to perform measurement functions, such as keeping track of an individual’s blood sugar or blood pressure or perhaps tracking sleep patterns to assist in treating sleep apnea.”


Beaujard says a large number of these devices and apps depend on low-energy technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Sierra Wireless stands behind wireless cellular technology for health devices. Cellular solutions not only offer a reliable connection in nearly every corner of the globe, cellular-based health devices are ideal for pushing continuous data to the cloud because they can be used reliably indoors and outdoors.

The company offers a secure, turnkey solution that enables the collection, storage, and transmission of continuous healthcare data from individuals to healthcare providers located anywhere in the world. By delivering invaluable health data to caregivers and other professional healthcare providers, Beaujard says Sierra Wireless is helping these professionals make better care and treatment decisions on behalf of their patients.

Facilitating and streamlining communication in realtime is another reason connected healthcare seems to be on everyone’s minds. “A key benefit of connecting medical devices is that they provide realtime feedback on testing results and other health issues, which all but eliminates human error in the reporting process for patients,” Beaujard explains. “What’s more, providing doctors (with) immediate feedback and constant monitoring of their patients greatly enhances doctors’ diagnostic abilities, which, in turn, can reduce costly hospital admissions.”

As the market progresses, Sierra Wireless expects there will be a demand for more technologically advanced sensors that will enable much more complex body and health monitoring and measurement functions. In turn, Beaujard predicts devices will become smaller and more easily worn on the body.

To succeed, connected-health providers and device makers must focus on ease of use and providing a reliable wireless connection that will seamlessly deliver data to where it needs to be to offer the most value. This, in conjunction with regulatory breakthroughs and some work around common standards, will help propel connected health to where it needs to be.

To read more about what it will take for connected-health solutions to rise above the rest, pick up a copy of the December issue of Connected World magazine.

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