The Internet of Things – a concept that describes a digitally connected world -- holds great promise for improving consumer wellness and the delivery of health care. Although care has become increasingly complex and the flood of data difficult to manage, IoT principles could ultimately streamline and simplify health care while meeting growing consumer demand for access, convenience and information.
Glenn Snyder, who oversees Deloitte’s Medical Technology Segment, recently led a discussion on IoT in the MedTech sector at AdvaMed 2016. Below, Snyder shares some of what he heard from panelists as well as insights from Deloitte’s analyses of consumer and industry trends.
Can you describe what IoT adoption in MedTech looks like?
When we talk about IoT in health care, we are really talking about a number of ways this technology can be applied. At Deloitte, we have identified six areas of focus:
- The connected patient experience: IoT-enabled therapeutics, smart devices and similar tools are designed to improve patient care and the patient experience.
- Medical devices of the future: This is really about the devices themselves, including optimizing performance and generally making sure the machinery works.
- Smart and secure supply chain: Tracking technology can be harnessed to streamline and automate the medical supply chain channels, while also helping meet regulatory standards.
- Real-world evidence: Connected devices such as smart pills can be used to collect data on the patient experience that yields insights about efficacy, adherence and more.
- Remote patient monitoring: Wearable devices capture biometric data to assess patient health, generating alerts when needed and feeding intelligence back to a platform for analysis and clinical actionability.
- Clinical trials: Researchers also can make use of digital technology in new ways to accelerate medical advancements.
There are already many uses of IoT in areas the consumer never sees because they involve keeping equipment running or supply chain applications. In terms of consumer-oriented adoption, interest is growing. Deloitte recently surveyed 3,751 US consumers and found that seven out of 10 have an interest in using IoT and digital health to manage some aspect of their care. That’s a pretty big uptick, and we think incentives built into insurance and the value-based care metrics being implemented on the clinical side will really push us to the point where IoT functionality is the expectation in health care.
What can MedTech companies do to encourage adoption of IoT in the industry?
Our panelists agreed it all starts with data, but information alone is not enough. To change outcomes, we must bring together the narrow slices of data collected by any one device or source, and this information must be aggregated in sufficient quantities so that we can mine it for insights. At Deloitte, we have developed what we call the Information Value Loop that depicts the stages through which data flows and the technologies that enable that flow, starting with a sensor and ending with an action taken by a consumer or a clinician. Each step of this loop must be completed to realize value from data, so companies can look at this model as they develop ways of realizing value themselves.
In order to realize the potential for more precise care, we need to “liberate the data,” and that requires MedTech companies to look beyond their own walls. Another thing our industry panelists were excited about was the ability to amass evidence through IoT. MedTech companies want to be able to say, “If you do X, you are going to get Y result.” There are lots of ways to build that evidence, but connected technology is the common thread.
What should MedTech companies keep in mind when considering the end user – the consumer?
The first consideration should be consumer segmentation. Deloitte has looked at generational segments and chronic disease status as well as segmenting according to the ways people tend to make decisions about their health. It’s not enough to understand that a consumer is not taking his or her medication. The right segmentation approach can shed light on why, offering useful insights as companies try to understand how to support consumers on their health journey.
In addition, expectations have evolved. Retail, consumer products, banking and other sectors have unlocked the digital genie, and that genie isn’t going back in the bottle. So MedTech and other segments of health care are operating in a universe informed by online banking and shopping as well as forces such as social media that shape expectations now being applied in health care. Consumers expect access, convenience, quality and personalization, but they also have concerns about privacy, security and quality of care that companies will have to allay.
What lessons do other industries offer to health care and what opportunities are there for MedTech to collaborate across industries?
Banking and the other successful consumer industries I have mentioned are natural use cases. We also heard from panelists about how the principles of gaming can be applied to engage consumers in efforts to achieve better health by awarding points for certain outcomes. It’s important to look at how quickly the world is changing now and also how it could look five to 10 years from now, so we have the capabilities in place to meet evolving expectations.
Something for MedTech leaders to consider is that although adapting what you learn through case analysis can be useful, there are myriad opportunities to benefit from partnerships. Consider the Information Value Loop, which links many components and capabilities. It may not be practical for a given company to own all the steps, such as analytics or data communication, so partnerships can be harnessed to close gaps and realize the promise of IoT.
How might business models and capabilities need to be rethought as MedTech companies work to integrate IoT principles?
Returning to the importance of data, as information is unlocked and aggregated, companies will need to build capability for handling it. That means data scientists are needed to understand the available sources of data and how to put together a number of data puddles to create a rich pool of information with enough layers to deliver meaningful insights. Importantly, companies will need to focus on the legal aspects of data access and consumer consent and how to best keep data secure and private.
Innovation has historically been heavily product-focused, with an emphasis on specific features and functions and driven by science and engineering. We’re now seeing a lot of consumer-oriented innovation taking place, focused on systems or solutions that occupy different places on the Information Value Loop. This is changing the very nature of innovation and the capabilities you need to be successful.
Similarly, as innovation increasingly targets consumers, one of the panelists pointed out that new types of design thinking are needed for companies whose end customer has historically been clinicians or laboratory researchers. To reach and engage consumers, it has become critical to look harder at consumer experience and identify unmet needs along the patient journey. This shift is nudging MedTech to a more B2C model, and this, too, requires an evolving mind-set.
Finally, MedTech companies will need to consider both traditional and non-traditional partnerships as they look to grow. Other industries bring deep experience with some of the key capabilities that MedTech companies are looking to build, such as data integration, interoperability and consumer engagement, and these should be included in the mix of portfolio decisions.
For more on the promise of IoT in MedTech, check out Deloitte’s research on the topic:
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