The Internet of Things (IoT) is not only paving the way for intelligent enterprises and smart cities, it's affecting the cost of delivering healthcare.
Accenture recently released the results of its Internet of Health Things Survey of 77 healthcare providers and an equal number of healthcare payers (generally health insurance companies), conducted by McGuire Research. The firms discovered that the Internet of Health Things (IoHT) is already having some positive effects on the industry.
First things first: What is the IoHT?
Accenture describes IoHT "as the integration of the physical and digital worlds through objects with network connectivity in the healthcare industry," in its report. "IoHT transforms raw data into simple, actionable information and communicates with other objects, machines or people. IoHT can be leveraged to improve access to health, quality of care, consumer experience, and operational efficiency."
For some healthcare organizations, the IoHT is already delivering brighter financials.
A third (33 percent) of all healthcare providers attributed "extensive operational cost savings" to their IoHT-enabled remote patient monitoring programs. Forty-two percent of healthcare payers reported major medical cost savings from similar programs. IoHT wellness and prevention programs are yielding "extensive" medical cost savings for 42 percent of providers and 45 percent of payers.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the sensor-packed and connected wearable is the go-to device class for wellness and prevention IoHT programs. Ninety-one percent of providers and 95 percent of payers said wearables where a component of such solutions.
Among healthcare providers, 42 percent provide their patients a health tracker and 28 percent subsidize the cost. Twenty-one percent of healthcare payers provide wearables to their members while 45 percent offer them at reduced cost.
On average, healthcare organizations are devoting 10 percent of their yearly IT budgets to IoHT. Some organizations have even established dedicated IoHT business units or subsidiaries (10 percent).
Kicking off an IoHT initiative is not without its challenges, however. Privacy and security concerns were among the biggest barriers slowing the adoption of IoT technologies among healthcare organizations. Nineteen percent of respondents cited legacy and incompatible systems as an "extensive barrier."
Underscoring the persistent IT skills gap affecting practically all industries, 40 percent of those polled said that a lack of talent posed a "moderate barrier" to adoption. Many firms also felt that a lack of maturity and interoperability standards in IoT technologies is hindering IoHT rollouts.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Enterprise Storage Forum. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.