How Does Connected Health Drive Positive Change In The World?

Rajagopalan Subramanyam

Digitization is driving change in virtually every industry in the world. Healthcare is one of the major industries seeing significant change because of technological innovation. In today’s healthcare landscape, connected health is becoming a strong component of improving patient outcomes. A recent survey of healthcare organizations showed that 52% of hospitals are using a minimum of three connected health systems. Nearly 70% found that mobile patient portals helped them support the organization’s secure data exchange plans.

In the United States, the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute recognizes the complexity of managing cancer biology, patient life impacts and patient care coordination. The implementation of electronic health records in the U.S. is around 80%. Combining these digital records with new connected health options is recognized among the top potential improvements for patient outcomes and overall care. By embracing the possibilities of connected health care, we can change health outcomes for patients around the world.

How does connected health drive positive change in the world?

The Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and smart technology connects patients to healthcare professionals and providing insights across the value chain. Advanced analytics allow machines to monitor patient statistics, alerting healthcare providers only when the patient begins to go outside of normal readings. But what about other aspects of healthcare that can impact patient outcomes?

Medications are often impacted by changes in the environment. However, it’s been difficult in the past to track exactly what conditions the medications were transported and stored under. When medications that are impacted by the environment are not properly stored, it can cause issues with effectiveness and safety. Adding IoT tracking sensors and networks helps ensure the medications are being handled properly while reducing theft and loss. The technology will be driven by the ability it creates to lower costs through lower needed inventory levels and spoilage losses. But how high could these losses be? It’s expected that over half of top-selling medications will require specific environmental conditions by 2020. That drives a strong initiative to lower losses.

It’s estimated that 28% of China’s nearly 1.4 billion people use connected health devices. India followed closely behind at 26%. With connected health options, programs such as DocsApp hope to help connect up to 100 million people in southern and southeast Asia with doctors over the next three years. Their goal is to make the connection in under 30 minutes. That’s a significant advantage over the many hours or days of travel required to reach a doctor or specialist in a larger city. By providing this type of service to rural areas, response to medical issues can happen at a much faster rate. This allows doctors to treat the illness or injury earlier on in the process using simpler methodologies. By doing so, they respond before it becomes an expensive cycle of intervention that may cost these patients their lives in the end.

When it comes to responding to a medical emergency at home, Alexa may not be the name you think of first. But the AI voice of Amazon’s Echo has been programmed to provide real-time instruction on CPR. This keeps people alive when an electrical shock, heart attack or similar emergency stops someone’s heart. Alexa provides information on childhood illness to anxious parents with a sick toddler and acting as a companion to the elderly. Future capabilities currently being developed include taking notes and requesting tests for doctors and providing medication reminders for those on maintenance drugs.

Imagine taking a pill and having your medical information automatically transmitted to your doctor. It may sound futuristic, but the future is now. Proteus Digital Health is working with several hospital systems to test the effectiveness of their Proteus pill. A tiny sensor package that can be swallowed, the pill then transmits information to a small patch worn on the torso. It helps detect when patients have taken their medications, maximizing effectiveness. This reduces costs due to improper usage, medical interventions and losses in the system. It’s been especially helpful in situations where patients have had poor results in adhering to a prescription drug routine. Over half of all prescriptions are not taken properly. Proteus helps improve patient awareness of their medication regimen adherence.

Mobile is also popular in connected health. Over half of all smartphone users have accessed health information on their phones. Mobile devices are used by 80% of physicians as part of their professional practice. In a pilot program, Hahnemann Hospital used a mobile app to follow up with heart patients. Following the introduction of the program, there was a 10% decrease in readmissions. Patients receiving messages saw a 16% decrease in readmissions. There was also a 6.6% decrease in patients who confirmed follow-up appointments through the app versus those who did not.

Connected health helps bring healthcare providers, patients and therapies together. It improves patient outcomes by more closely tracking the patient’s condition. It improves healthcare access for patients in rural or developing areas. This allows better healthcare on a truly international scale.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading The IoT Imperative for Consumer Industries.  Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

Rajagopalan Subramanyam

About Rajagopalan Subramanyam

Rajagopalan Subramanyam is Senior Director of the Life Sciences Business Unit at SAP.