If there is one big topic that people want to talk about these days, it’s healthcare. From stories about recent hospital experiences to concerns about healthcare costs and the best ways to manage healthcare – there is a real buzz around our health and the ecosystem designed to protect and support it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the healthcare industry is growing faster and will add more jobs between 2014 and 2024 than any other sector. Healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are projected to be the two fastest growing occupational groups during the projections decade. These groups are projected to contribute the most new jobs, with a combined increase of 2.3 million in employment, representing about 1 in 4 new jobs.
We would also like to discuss healthcare but with a different twist… We see a convergence in the need and opportunity between the growing elderly population and the potential of the IoT to connect equipment and people. Why this topic and why now? There is no denying that our population is aging. In fact, recent statistics show that by 2024, the world population is expected to reach 8 billion people and of this number, 1.2 billion of these people will be elderly. Moreover, we have seen IoT solutions, when applied properly, can gather data and yield meaningful insights to improve care and lower costs.
As an innovator, this situation is both exciting and overwhelming. The opportunities available to use the best-in-class technology and innovation to support this growing elderly population is unprecedented. However, 2024 really isn’t that far away – particularly when it comes to new product development and adoption.
This is exactly why, when our team is talking about healthcare, we’re talking about the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), which is the latest in technologies and how to get the latest in medical device technology into the hands of those who can really benefit from it.
Our healthcare infrastructure is stressed and overburdened. During a recent webcast hosted by our parent company, Jabil, and presented by Lorraine Marchand, one particularly interesting slide compared the U.S. and Western Europe healthcare performance by country. The results showed that the most expensive care typically resulted in the lowest level of satisfaction. Hospitals are stressed with the demands of patient care, staffing needs, rising costs, lack of funding, and capacity issues. Combine this with the sad reality that we are a sicker population and the hard reality that change is slow to come to the healthcare industry. More people are working harder and at a higher cost, to deliver mediocre care.
The existing infrastructure – regulation, payer models, care system – make a wholesale change unrealistic. While it would be ideal to rebuild the system, this simply is not realistic. That slow pace of change doesn’t allow for wholesale redesign or updating. Rather, what is needed is realistic vision for improvement, and the implementation of a series of discrete, but highly impactful steps forward that enables better patient care, better management of staff workloads, and encourages better use of existing resources.
Enter IoMT – the opportunities this new domain of connected devices, cloud technology, and medical devices are powerful. Exciting – yes. Overwhelming – yes. Necessary – yes.
So, where to get started?
IoMT for Better Elder Care
We appreciate that opportunity is packaged with challenge and risk. The good news is that by working together, we can give you the tools and knowledge to focus on your idea and to really harness the opportunity – while we do the work to minimize challenges and risk that come with innovation and opportunity. Our focus is on bridging the gap between insight through to commercialization, minimizing risk, maximizing rewards – ultimately getting your idea into the hands of those who need and want it.
This brings us back to your big opportunity: improving elder care with IoMT. Here’s our quick brainstorm of ideas on how we see IoMT affecting healthcare for the better – making it easier for the entire infrastructure to support the increasing demands of our growing and aging population.
- Ease of monitoring. Many elderly people are managing conditions that require constant monitoring, involving conditions, caregivers, and medication regimes. This places a great deal of stress on these patients, often making it harder to control and manage conditions such as heart disease, COPD, diabetes, and stroke side effects. Real-time and simple monitoring and appropriate analytics of key factors such as heart rate activity and glucose levels allows doctors and patients to be directly connected to insights that inform improvements in care rather than more and more raw data – easing the burden on patients to remember to self-monitor and ensuring these patients are being monitored with minimal disruption.
- Medical compliance. Compliance costs are between $100B and $300B each year. The reasons are diverse and need to be monitored and managed differently. This is especially true for elderly patients. Smart apps and product design can work to ensure that patients are gently reminded to take their daily medication and to send alerts to both the patients and the healthcare practitioners when dosages are missed. However, smart solutions that to not require smart phones are also available and effective.
- Maintaining independence. Not only are hospitals overburdened but so too are nursing homes and residences. Factor in that most elderly people want to continue living in their own homes – and there is opportunity to take advantage of virtual monitoring and robot technology. Using simple-to-use apps and touchscreen technology, seniors can easily connect to family, friends, and healthcare providers – all of whom can help support these seniors while ensuring that they are living well and safely. This also serves to help manage the cost of care by keeping patients at home longer rather than in dedicated healthcare facilities.
- Daily quality of life. For many seniors, it’s the things we take for granted that become frustrating – hearing well, seeing properly, and hand dexterity. Inserting cumbersome hearing aids or trying to manipulate a modern smartphone with small buttons and a slippery surface can be a challenge. Smart technology that creates an environment tailored for our aging population, such as connecting a hearing aid to items in the home such as the volume control on the television or radio or connects to a smartphone or tablet when a call is received, can take the stress of managing the simple tasks of life.
This is just a snapshot of how we can take the best in IoMT and use it to really make a difference in the lives of real people.
It is really about making a difference – improving the lives of seniors and their families and easing the burden on the healthcare system, while also managing the cost of care. We’re excited about these possibilities and like you, we want to see them come to fruition. Our team of experts will take your idea from paper to reality – giving you the power to make a difference. Remember, now is the time to get started – contact us and let’s talk IoMT and changing lives.