Fig. 3 – The next generation of home healthcare will see more open interface options and innovations in how manufacturers use device data versus the devices themselves. In the next two years, the process will become even more fluid and rely on secure cloud systems.
However, not all clouds are equal. The cloud for connecting video streams would be architected much differently from a cloud that is optimized for IoT/M2M applications. For example, most connected devices don’t require large amounts of bandwidth. So, one of the first things a designer should consider is how a specific device must “talk” to the cloud. A second vital consideration is where the data from the device must go. For example, medical devices typically have both machine data and clinical data. Machine data is information regarding the device and clinical data would typically be kept in medical records requiring a cloud service to securely deliver information to multiple applications. As a result, manufacturers must look for the appropriate device-cloud architecture that supports sophisticated load balancing to enhance reliability.

Security is another important consideration. Device and network security continue to mature just like other traditional IT and public networks. The first step is to keep all connections— wired and wireless alike—encrypted. End-to-end encryption provides peace of mind to a supplier, confidence to the patient, and stronger HIPAA compliance to the healthcare provider. The device-cloud service does not need or want the responsibility of non-encrypted information. In fact, leading device-cloud suppliers want to help their customers build secure end-to-end solutions. It’s important to partner with a vendor with deep experience in the hardware and communications technology used in IoT and M2M systems.

Looking Ahead

More open interface options are emerging to enable the next generation of innovation in healthcare. Within the next two years, manufacturers will begin to transition their business models to prioritize applications that leverage device data rather than the devices themselves. Imagine a software as a service business model for treating congestive heart failure. It’s possible now, through remotely connected medical devices and automated monitoring that capture essential data from devices such networked scales and pulse oximeters to spot unfavorable clinical trends before they worsen. (See Figure 3)

It’s important to keep in mind that patients rely on these new connected devices for their well-being. Today, we are at a tipping point of being able to provide great care in hospitals, and extending that great care to the home. Working with health care providers, patients can take charge of their own care and manage their health confidently, securely, and cost effectively.

The future is bright, indeed.

This article was written by Steve Popovich, Vice President of Business Development, Digi International, Minnetonka, MN. For more information, Click Here .