Government initiatives for promoting digital health
Over the last decade, governments in several countries have undertaken initiatives for promoting digital health. These initiatives range from heavy investments for setting up the requisite infrastructure and the promotion of digital health, organizing conferences, inviting investors and top market players, and restructuring the healthcare system and implementing regulations mandating the use of EHR.
Growing need for cost-containment in healthcare delivery
The overall cost of healthcare delivery has grown at a double-digit rate in the last few decades. Increasing health insurance premiums, growing demand for quality healthcare services, rising geriatric population, and growing incidence of chronic disorders across the globe are the major factors responsible for the significant rise in healthcare costs. Other major factors contributing to this trend are the high dependency on traditional and technologically outdated clinical devices that increase the rate of readmission of patients, medical errors, and administration costs.
– High deployment cost of connected medical devices and the associated infrastructure
The installation of IoT-enabled medical devices requires significant capital investments on the part of healthcare providers. The costs involved include not only device costs but also several other costs related to connectivity and interoperability, IT infrastructure, and device maintenance.
The cost of interoperability and connectivity solutions for different medical devices is considerably high. Moreover, IT support and maintenance services, which include modification and upgradation of software as per changing user requirements and maintaining an efficient IT infrastructure, represent a recurring expenditure. This accounts for a large share of the total cost of ownership.
– Insufficient IoT technology skills across healthcare organizations
The skills required to manage connected medical devices are entirely different from the skills required to manage an on-premise infrastructure. Sufficient knowledge is also needed for processes, such as data collection, interoperability, integration, and analysis. Also, as more and more IoT devices are added to networks, network management is expected to become more complex and increasingly difficult for IT teams.
Low doctor-to-patient ratio leading to increased dependency on self-operated eHealth platforms
The doctor-to-patient ratio is low in many countries across the globe. According to the World Health Statistics report 2017, around 40% of countries have less than one physician per 1,000 population and less than 18 hospital beds per 10,000 population. Also, there is a significant disparity between the developed and developing markets in terms of healthcare access for citizens. For instance, developing countries in the APAC region and Africa have a significantly lower density of hospital beds, physicians, nurses, and midwives per 10,000 people as compared to developed countries in North America and Europe (Source: WHO).
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Issues related to data security
The increased use of automated technologies such as EHR and the move towards healthcare integration and health information exchanges have helped expand the healthcare privacy and security landscape. Electronic exchange of patient data offers greater reach and efficiency in healthcare delivery but has high-security risks due to the broader access offered. These security concerns about proprietary data and applications are considered as a major challenge to the growth of the IoT medical devices market.
Issues related to data management and interoperability
The healthcare industry is highly information-intensive, wherein a large volume of data is generated every hour from the millions of connected medical devices in use in multiple healthcare facilities as well as through patients under remote monitoring. However, generating credible information by integrating the huge quantity of data plays a pivotal role in creating exhaustive and accurate patient records. Since various medical devices and diagnostic tools are being used within healthcare systems, there is a greater need to integrate all these systems in order to aid a timely response by healthcare professionals at different points of care delivery.
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