The Future of Telemedicine Devices is Cloud and IoT-Driven

Yadhu Gopalan

April 16, 2020

In recent weeks, Dermatologist Semal Desai had to quickly decide between telemedicine upgrades or temporarily shutting down his Plano, TX-based private practice. Dr. Desai considered the pros and cons of telemedicine, including lifted restrictions and expanded insurance reimbursements. Ultimately, he opted for the upgrade. “We’ve been flying by the seat of our pants,” said Dr. Desai.

There’s been “a decade of telemedicine advancement in just weeks,” according to industry analysts at MedicineNet. But, the current telemedicine crunch isn’t unique. The future of healthcare mobile device management will need to support a cultural shift to real-time mobile experience delivery.

The Next Wave of Telemedicine Device Modernization

The future of mobility management for connected medical devices looks nothing like yesterday’s core mobile device management solutions. Traditional healthcare mobile device management (MDM) solutions were designed for first-generation clinical devices — like Physician tablets, mHealth patient apps, and self-service patient kiosks in waiting rooms.

The next wave of healthcare mobile modernization is characterized by internet of medical things (IoMT) deployments. It involves an increasing number of non-traditional, Android devices for remote patient care. Tomorrow’s systems for healthcare mobility management must be prepared to support a larger volume and variety of connected devices.

Trend #1: IoMT

The industry is experiencing unprecedented growth in the adoption of IoMT, which Deloitte defines as a “connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, and health systems and services.”

Today, just 48% of medical devices use mobility to connect to the cloud. In 5 year’s time, that figure will be closer to 68%. The most innovative IoMT devices leverage AI and machine learning to deliver clinical-grade patient care both inside and outside of hospitals.

Trend #2: Transition to Remote Medicine

Hospital beds have traditionally been a major component of hospital revenue and patient care plans. In 1995, outpatient revenue was just 33% of total hospital revenue. Just 25 years later, that figure is much closer to 50% of total revenue.

Outpatient care can improve patient care outcomes, especially when IoMT can improve diagnostics or drive preventive care. mHealth technology can also extend clinical-grade monitoring to patients to combat the shortage of home healthcare workers or protect immuno-compromised patients.

The outpatient shift is driven by IoMT, and it’s beneficial for everyone involved in healthcare. Mobility can help healthcare enterprises reserve inpatient beds for the sickest patients and do more with limited resources.

Trend #3: Preventive Care

The US patient population is aging and expanding, and it needs more healthcare. The number of US adults ages 65 and older is higher than ever before, partly because people are living longer. The growing demand for healthcare is complicated by the fact the healthcare workforce is also aging and heading into retirement. By 2025, there will be an estimated shortage of 2.3 million licensed Physicians and Nurses in the US.

Preventive care is critical to accommodate the needs of an aging patient population, according to a CDC and HHS report. Older patients are more likely to suffer from disease states which require early prevention and detection. It’s time for health organizations to think beyond traditional physician-patient delivery models. Telemedicine and mHealth innovation can match the growing demand for preventive and geriatic care.

Trend #4: Operational Improvement

Seema Verma, administrator of the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently warned that healthcare organizations needed to become quality-focused to succeed. Instead of treating a higher quantity of patients, Verma says it’s time to healthcare think about how to improve patient health outcomes, strengthen care coordination, and cut back on waste.

Operational efficiency is important in a time in an age when the system’s resources are under incredible pressure. Improving patient care outcomes requires better coordination across different healthcare organizations — hospitals, primary care physicians, rehabs, and home healthcare providers.

Coordination between healthcare organizations is one measure of operational efficiency. Another important measure is the efficiency of administrative workflows and internal system integration for visibility across patient care, scheduling, referrals, and billing.

Trend #5: Non-Traditional Players

There are an increasing number of technology and service providers who are working directly with health care delivery organizations to improve patient care with analytics, medical devices, and other innovations.

The first wave of disruption occurred over a decade ago, when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) established a case for Healthcare Information Exchanges (HIE). The push for secure, cloud-based electronic health records (EHR) shared between organizations was a radical idea at the time. Today, healthcare organizations have moved beyond HIE to new collaboration use cases with technologists, researchers, and regulators.

Trend #6: The Growing Case for Managing Medical Devices

“Many organizations are still trying to manage their medical devices internally through spreadsheets,” writes Health IT Director Bill Parkinson. Spreadsheets are, in his words, “a surefire recipe for inefficiency, frustration and error.” Poor mobile medical device management can lead to bigger problems, too — failed audits, performance issues, and security risks. 

The idea of mobile device management solutions was defined by Gartner in 2017 as “the glue that connects mobile devices to their enterprise infrastructure.” 3 years later, this definition has shifted into the cloud. Modern medical MDM needs to create seamless, point-to-point connectivity between the device and cloud infrastructure.

Spreadsheets, systems of record, and mobile asset management (MAM) software aren’t enough to address the risks of IoMT deployments. IoMT device management solutions need to offer:

  • Core Device Management Features: Configuration, Provisioning, De-Provisioning
  • Mobile Experience Management
  • Support for Non-Traditional Android Devices
  • Remote Debugging and Updates
  • Point-to-Point Connectivity Between Device and Cloud

Healthcare Industry Challenges Shaping the Future of Device Management

There’s little question that connectivity is transforming the healthcare industry. While there’s clear benefits to medical mobility, there’s also some questions about whether the healthcare sector is ready. 71% of MedTech industry leaders believe that providers and clinicians “are not ready” to utilize data from connected medical devices. The healthcare sector needs to prepare immediately to deploy and manage connected medical devices, and they need to consider how a core cloud platform can create a baseline for mobile patient insights.

The healthcare industry has always faced unique challenges to balance innovation with the need for quality, compliance, and data security. The considerations involved in safely upgrading to telemedicine capabilities aren’t unique to the larger pressures around healthcare innovation.

Challenge #1: Interoperability

Each new mobile monitoring device and telehealth app needs to work effectively within the greater ecosystem of healthcare devices, apps, hardware, and cloud systems. Interoperability is a current challenge, and there’s a push for innovators to adopt standards such as Android to ensure greater compatibility going forward. Solving the interoperability challenge in the growing internet of medical things (IoMT) is necessary to drive transparency, cost efficiency, and quality.

Challenge #2: Data Security

Each connected medical device requires a framework for secure deployment and management. When devices are used for more than one patient, healthcare organizations need a reliable way to completely wipe and reset devices before reuse. Data breaches and failed device updates can have a devastating impact on data privacy and safety.

Challenge #3: Mobile Trust

Healthcare providers are in a rush to innovate, but they can’t sacrifice security. They need to clearly demonstrate a systemic approach to protecting health data to regulators and patients.

Challenge #4: mHealth Talent

There’s a shortage of talent to drive mobile health innovation at every stage of the value chain, and the skills gap is growing. Organizations need to consider how their deployment and management solutions can speed or slow down mobile deployments at healthcare facilities or patient homes. It’s possible to accelerate upgrades with no-touch deployment and management capabilities such as remote debugging. 

Challenge #5: Scale

The size of the IoMT is expected to grow 41.67% between 2020 and 2025. Healthcare enterprises are facing an unprecedented need to scale up their mobile medical device management capabilities. The future of MDM must be able to accommodate a new diversity of device types and experiences without slowing down growth. 

The Future of Healthcare: Looking Ahead to 2025

Mobile innovation is the only answer to alleviate some of the healthcare Mobile innovation is the only answer to alleviate some of the healthcare industry’s biggest challenges, including the drive to lower care cost, improve access, and strengthen patient outcomes. There’s an immediate need for solutions that can scale up device deployments and improve seamless no-touch management capabilities.

Future Trend: The Patient Population Continues to Age 

The number of adults is rising significantly and projected to double between 2020 and 2060.  Simultaneously, the number of qualified clinical care providers is shrinking. Healthcare enterprises need to rapidly deploy new care models to support the needs of a steadily-growing population of older adults, even with shrinking workforce resources. 

Future Trend: Rising Prevalence of Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, and heart disease are responsible for nearly 75% of:

  • Patient deaths in the US
  • Physician visits
  • Healthcare spend 

Between 2020 and 2025, the number of US patients with a chronic disease state is projected to rise from 45% to 49%.

Providing care to a greater number of patients with chronic diseases requires mobile healthcare technologies and wearable innovation. Patients can become more engaged in healthcare when wearables and mobile devices are used for education, real-time feedback, and direct communication with their physicians.

Conclusion: The Future of Telemedicine Devices for Healthcare

The future of MDM for telemedicine devices looks nothing like yesterday’s mobile management software for smartphones and tablets. Today’s healthcare organizations are fighting unprecedented challenges around limited resources and a greater demand for patient care. Upgrading to telemedicine is the first of many steps for healthcare enterprises, who also need to consider how to rapidly deploy IoMT for telehealth and chronic disease management.

The future of medical mobility management will offer richer features and capabilities, including support to remotely deploy, debug, and monitor a wide spectrum of IoMT technologies. Improving collaboration with innovators requires a look toward interoperability, or cloud-based Android device management platforms which can support both traditional and non-traditional hardware, operating systems, and application experiences. Agility and operational excellence should be the core outcomes of next-wave mobility orchestration solutions.