The healthcare market has seen explosive growth in the adoption of personal health and wellness tracking devices, from Fitbits and dozens of other fitness trackers, to blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose testing solutions, integrated with smartphones, and in some cases sending data to the cloud to feed distributed applications and analytics.
But the real potential in this market is driven by the obvious value of professional medical devices, going beyond simple wellness applications into the ability to manage chronic disease, accurate capture of patient data during clinical drug trials, the remote monitoring of high risk patients, and the economics associated with providing better care, more conveniently and at dramatically less cost.
IoT in Healthcare Brings About Data Security Concerns
This week in Chicago, Integron, a managed services company specializing in IoT systems development, integration and ongoing operations, is demonstrating to the members of the Drug Information Association (DIA), private networks that meet the highest standards for connecting medical devices and tracking human vital signs in real time.
Growth in this market has been driven by tremendous innovation by companies including Fitbit Inc. (U.S.), Philips Healthcare (Netherlands), Garmin Ltd. (Switzerland), LifeWatch AG. (Switzerland), Omron Corporation (Japan), Drägerwerk AG & Co. KGaA (U.S.), Withings SA.(France), Jawbone Inc. (U.S.) and Polar Electro Oy (Finland), according to a report from Market and Markets.
While the devices work and the data from those devices can drive decision making that can improve and save lives, the requirement for data security and private networks ensuring the protection of data in motion have slowed adoption rates by healthcare providers who “prescribe” these devices to patients.
Integron has taken on the challenge of connecting medical devices either worn by or embedded into human beings by developing a software defined networking (SDN) solution.
Their highly secure connectivity offering is specifically designed to support everything from the clinical trials of these devices to systems that will ultimately scale to support millions of devices over time.
Additionally, the company is working with partners on home-care applications, improving the monitoring of patients in recovery or with chronic illnesses, making care more personalized and cost-efficient for providers.
The Healthcare IoT Security Solution
The company is partnering with NetFoundry to deliver an end-to-end solution that addresses the unique security and performance considerations that are becoming requirements within the healthcare industry.
Integron is already supporting several healthcare companies by managing the connectivity and deployment logistics for their connected devices, including a customer that manufactures cardiac implants and provides the cardiac monitoring platform that medical professionals use to monitor hundreds of thousands of patients. Before a secure wireless solution was put in place, thousands of patients had to use a legacy monitoring device that required access to a traditional analog phone line. Existing cardiac monitoring devices can be retrofitted with a cellular appliance, and designed as the next generation of monitoring devices to be ‘cellular ready’, and patients gain the benefits of mobile movement while staying connected to their health monitoring service.
“Viable deployment models have to include direct-to-patient and direct-to-clinic,” said Bryan Lubel, President, Integron. “We worked on building a wireless solution, and now kits are available that are ready to transmit patient data using global wireless connectivity from half a dozen mobile network operators, that meet all of the regulatory compliance requirements in the markets they serve. It’s a complicated process, with a lot of moving parts, which led Integron to build and offer end-to-end design, development and deployment solutions alongside its managed services platform, including lifecycle retirement of devices as new versions come online.”
Earlier this year, the company announced it is partnering with Stefanini to provide enterprise IoT and outsourcing solutions to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, expanding its reach and deepening its resources to keep up with the demand as connected medical devices continues to ramp up.
“The IoT has enormous potential in healthcare information and management, but we need to address serious security and device connectivity issues head on,” Lubel said. “Clinical trials alone have become more complex due to increased importance on security, geographical spread, and management of patient data.”
Lubel has also seen pressure to make the clinical trial process more efficient and productive without breaking the bank. “Contract Research Organizations (CROs) are adopting technology and IoT-enabled devices to improve service offerings, but when they get into the development cycle, they realize there are complexities they hadn’t seen in traditional drug trials, including connectivity, interop and systems integration. We partnered with Stefanini given our alignment of vision and the work both companies are doing with CROs and other firms.”
“Increasing efficiency and reducing the costs of m-Health initiatives are important for our customers,” said Denis Reynders, Global Business Unit Leader at Stefanini Life Sciences Services, in the companies’ announcement. “The joint solution we offer through this partnership gives our customers a much better economic model for conducting their connected ventures.”
Earlier this year, at Mobile World Congress, Integron also announced it is partnering with NetFoundry to deliver Internet-based, secure, high-performance private network solutions, using overlay technologies that make the creation of private networks easier and less expensive than cellular and other more traditional connectivity approaches.
Integron, which is headquartered in Rochester, New York, designs and engineers solutions for connected health companies, including hardware selection and sourcing, firmware customization, country specific cellular certifications, OSS and BSS platform services, wireless management, asset tracking and traceability.
Stefanini is a global IT outsourcing services company with locations in 34 countries across the Americas, Europe, Australia, and Asia, established in 1987.
NetFoundry will be demonstrating managed services for clinical trials of connected medical device solutions at the annual meeting of the Drug Information Association (DIA) in Chicago this week.
DIA is a global, membership organization dedicated to bringing health care product development professionals together to share insights and drive action in health care product development and life cycle management.