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The future of intelligent things - how connected health is disrupting the world of healthcare
By Reena Sangar, Director, Ipsos and Sean Houghton, Associate Director, Ipsos
There is little doubt that connected health may offer the answer to alleviating financial pressures on healthcare systems and improving patient outcomes, but how exactly can this be achieved? What concerns and barriers need to be considered and who exactly is leading the future of healthcare?
The principle is “prevention not treatment” which would create cost savings for healthcare providers and benefit patients by improving their overall health outcomes. In order to achieve this, however, healthcare delivery must become more patient-centric or ‘individually tailored’. Interoperable healthcare devices and added value healthcare solutions aim to keep an up-to-date patient profile by communicating this information to providers. This enables healthcare providers to then track changes and ultimately prevent the development of more serious conditions. Early detection translates into early, often less aggressive, treatment. Four in ten primary care physicians in the US and UK strongly agree that remote monitoring of chronic conditions can reduce unnecessary emergency room visits. 39 percent strongly agree patient-generated data should be included in electronic medical records. Moreover, 29 percent of UK and US doctors would include this data in order to inform diagnostic decisions.
Despite strong market growth in this sector, barriers to implementation and adoption still stand in the way of manufacturers.
The race has begun for device companies to become market leaders in their respective fields. The same can be said of LifeScience companies, which are developing “beyond the pill” strategies around their molecules to survive the future “connected” world.
All competitors are, however, faced with the same barriers and challenges. Funding the adoption of connected health solutions is a major obstacle to both national healthcare services and solution providers. On a national level, institutions are fighting with budget constraints and the fact that most of the connected health services and devices are not adequately reimbursed.
The landscape of data protection and cybersecurity
One of the greatest concerns to proponents of connected health, and skeptics alike are the security measures put in place to guard patient information.
Conducting research with biometrics combined with VR/AR capabilities enables manufacturers to address the ever-changing needs of patients, ensuring differentiation in an increasingly crowded market
Funding only poses part of the challenge as healthcare professionals question issues over the protection of personal information. Despite being open to the use of patient-generated data, 58 percent of US and UK physicians are concerned about how the patient data is handled and secured. Moreover, 78 percent find ‘defined and certified’ technical standards very important.
The importance of user experience
Adoption is nothing without retention. In no other Industry is the “end user” relegated to the sidelines in the design of a service built to serve them. Healthcare as an industry needs to embrace the patient at the heart of everything they do. Devices and services must be user-friendly, intuitive and designed to be accessible to all ages, socio-economic groups, literacy levels and cultures.
Currently, 29% of the online population in China use a connected health device or tool to manage their health. More striking, though, is the fact that 18 percent of the population formerly owned a connected health device and have since stopped using it. Product retention forms the other part of the challenge and is linked to usability. 24 percent of the Chinese online population find devices, trackers, and apps too much effort to use. Involving the end-user in the design process helps to address these challenges and is becoming more common practice.
Conducting research with biometrics combined with VR/AR(Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality) capabilities enables manufacturers to address the ever-changing needs of patients, ensuring differentiation in an increasingly crowded market.
The future success of connected health relies on transparency, education, and advocacy…
Manufacturers are met with challenges on multiple levels. Not only do product offerings have to suit a fast developing market, but external factors must also be taken into consideration. Education and advocacy is a must in order to gain buy-in from the more skeptical healthcare providers. In the US and the UK 52 percent of physicians remain only moderately convinced that personal connected health devices can improve outcomes. Furthermore, 37 precent are only moderately convinced that patient-generated data should be included in EMR systems. This is where communication of the right information through the right channels becomes crucial to product uptake.
The challenge typically observed in this market are formulating customer engagement plans which external stakeholders draw upon to facilitate product uptake. Given the holistic approach to connected health, payers have become as important as providers and users. Finding payer solutions relies on establishing optimal payment models and reimbursement strategies. After all, the cost is one of the major barriers to adoption amongst both providers and users.
Just like the fast-paced innovation of technology, connected health is constantly developing and changing and in order to remain ahead of the curve, it is crucial to keep abreast of the market.