The Internet of Things (IoT). A worldwide web of devices that connect, share data and make our lives better.
Phones, vehicles, appliances… the number of IoT-connected devices is expected to each about 31 billion units by 2020. And one area where this fast-moving technology can have a real impact is healthcare. Medical device manufacturers estimate that in five years’ time 68 per cent of medical devices will be connected.
Colleagues from our IoT Centre of Excellence in Amsterdam and our UK-based digital experts have been working alongside our client Vodafone on smart medical solutions. The communications giant is a market leader in the IoT market. Connecting more devices than any other global carrier, it has a footprint of over 74 million connections.
In order to show, not only tell about the power of IoT, the team has developed a mobile application prototype that can be used in the home and in familiar surroundings to the patient for monitoring the use of feeding tubes. Called ‘enteral feeding pumps’, they administer nutrition to patients who are unable to feed themselves properly or who cannot eat or drink safely. The prototype was the next step in a collaboration with Vodafone starting early 2017 and bringing this prototype to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2018 was a milestone in our relationship.
The application shows the potential that IoT has to transform the experience for patients, practitioners and, when children are involved, parents. It monitors treatment programmes in people’s homes to make sure the correct care plan is being followed and reports on progress via a range of notifications. For nurses visiting patients in their homes, it features comprehensive patient profiles and is an important connection to wider clinical teams. For families, it can offer much-needed reassurance that their loved one is getting the best possible care and connects them to health practitioners if they have any concerns.
“The Healthcare market is a strategic vertical for Vodafone IoT. Partnerships with organisations like Deloitte have allowed us to expand our reach to the market by building a joint proposition specifically tailored for medical device manufacturers and users within the healthcare industry, enabling medics and professionals to connect with their patients. With Deloitte’s expertise in healthcare and Vodafone’s expertise in IoT technology, we are able to improve the delivery of care from MedTech companies and ultimately benefit patients.”
Netherlands-based Senior UX Specialist, Luc Moers, helped to develop the prototype. He explains: “Even though the pump is compact, having one in the home can be quite intimidating. Patients and their families often have a lot of questions, but this gives them the insight they need.”
While the pumps allow people to be looked after in familiar surroundings, the nature of the treatment can isolate them as they miss social interaction at meal times. As a concept the app design contains the use of emojis to express how they’re feeling, so practitioners can gauge mental as well as physical health.
The collaboration, across Deloitte and between partner organisations, is working well and the team is now talking to medical device manufacturers to explore the market potential.
Ultimately, the combined know-how – and the power of the IoT – can create new patient services, such as monitored public access defibrillators. The ambition is to take it further, for example connected inhalers for asthma sufferers.
“Our collaboration with Vodafone is a new way of doing business in an area where we previously had no presence,” continues Luc. “It shows how we can use our complementary capabilities to improve care.”
Daan Hoevers, Senior Manager IoT Center of Excellence concludes: “This is a great example of purposeful and agile innovation at Deloitte – we are improving the delivery of care and ultimately benefiting patients by turning medical devices into healthcare services.”