President & CEO

How IoT will transform Med Tech

President & CEO

Medical Device firms have tremendous opportunities to harness the power of IoT especially given the typical product mix of capital equipment, consumables, software, and services. Capital equipment devices usually are installed and operated within the context of a hospital or clinical environment. Device manufacturers that mechanize and develop smart, connected device infrastructure could bring about significant operational efficiency’s and customer self-service workflows. Following a set of use-cases for applications of IoT within the medical devices¬†industry:

  1. Capital equipment devices typically cost significant dollars and are therefore expected to operate at high utilization for multiple years. When these devices break down, there is significant impact to the hospital / clinic and patient throughput. In these situations it is critical to ensure high utilization of the device and proactively trap potential device errors before they occur. Connected device infrastructure could drive this proactive service rather than reactive service. A smart, connected device that malfunctions could automatically deliver an error notification to a centralized cloud-based service monitored by support technicians. A connected device would allow the technician to connect in real-time to the device to trouble-shoot and resolve the issue.
  2. Trained technicians usually perform regular device maintenance on a recommended schedule. A connected device could automatically initiate a maintenance service request based on run-time or on a regular schedule. Maintenance visits can be planned and arranged without any human intervention. From a supply chain perspective, parts replaced during maintenance or device upgrades could automatically be used to manage inventory and production levels.
  3. In a smart, connected environment, a multitude of devices in a clinical operation could provide device-level data. This data can be aggregated to provide administrators an aggregated view of all the device operations across their realm of responsibility. A cloud-based service could then be used to drive dashboards and reports that showcase device utilization, performance, and other functional time-series data at the individual device level or on a broader aggregated level. Clinical administrators can utilize this data to optimize resource allocations and device efficiency’s.
  4. With the proper security and regulatory procedures in place, an IoT device could generate, analyze, and transmit patient data highlighting anomalies or discrepancies. Such a connected set of devices operating with an awareness of their broader use can collaborate and correlate the full spectrum of patient life-cycle data. Processing applications can be customized to consume this data, perform statistical analysis, driving better patient outcomes.
  5. Devices often have embedded software / firmware that require regular upgrades as new versions are released. Typically these releases are packaged up and delivered in a non-standard manner either on a CD or another type of storage device for the operator to install. A connected IoT infrastructure could streamline the process by allowing automated update checks by the device, downloads, and approved installs.
  6. New service based pay-per-use monetization models open up whereby customers can determine the level of device functionality and add, remove features based on their device specific needs and usage patterns. A SaaS based approach to delivering device functionality would introduce an ongoing subscription based fee structure among other mechanisms to drive revenue growth.
  7. On the consumables side, clinical operations usually reorder disposables either online or phone when they run out of supplies. A self-aware IoT infrastructure would allow the product to realize that it is the last one in the box and auto-order, thus taking the human hassle of reordering out of the mix.
  8. Sales and demand gen functions typically operate within operational siloes without closed loop performance data. An intelligent IoT ecosystem could provide information about the organizational setup and open new avenues to cross-sell and up-sell across health care clinics, hospital affiliates, and other care sites.
In my next post, I will discuss the challenges of instituting an IoT program within the clinical environment and perspectives on overcoming those challenges.

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