The connected health-care sector—your bloodstream will soon be online

The connected health-care sector—your bloodstream will soon be online

The Swedish health-care sector is facing a large IT reform where existing solutions and systems will be merged and simplified in order to make employees' work easier and guarantee high levels of health care. The need for vigorous efforts in order to handle the health-care sector's outdated IT solutions is growing stronger each day. This is because our society is becoming more and more connected, and the development of solutions and products is increasingly geared towards the customer's needs.

Cognizant supplies IT solutions to many of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies and health-care providers, and we have identified several exciting areas where the truly connected health-care sector is taking shape. In particular, the rapid technical developments within social networks, mobile devices, data analysis, cloud solutions and sensors are creating several exciting possibilities for hospitals, health-care providers, health-care recipients and the preventative care market. Here are a few examples of upcoming possibilities for the health-care sector.

The connected hospital 

The Internet of Things and a wide standardisation of communication protocols have paved the way for new technology platforms where everything from health technology, measuring instruments and mobile devices can communicate with one another. A good example of this is the iCare project, which Cognizant developed together with Narayana Health, a health-care provider in India. iCare is an ambitious software project that lets health-care employees use tablets to access patients' health status information in real time. By using wearable sensors and connected medical equipment that measure vital functions such as blood pressure and blood count, the staff can do more than just make their rounds. Now they can monitor their patients' health status remotely and be notified quickly of any changes that may be warning signs of a decline in patient health.

Sensors are another exciting area of innovation within the health-care sector. Today we have micro cameras that can be swallowed to give physicians amazing insights. Thousands of images are recorded whilst the camera travels through the patient's intestinal system, which helps the physician make a diagnosis and identify problem areas.

The connected patient 

Today's technology lets patients play an active role in their own health care and rehabilitation. Patients can use consumer-adapted sensor technology, such as connected blood pressure and blood sugar measuring equipment, to track their own values and see how their treatments are affecting them. By keeping patients updated on their disease developments and actively providing input on their treatment, they become more invested in their own recovery. This reduces the amount of cases of patients who do not adhere to their medication programmes. The overall results include higher levels of patient engagement, fewer follow-ups and reduced health-care costs.

The connected preventative care market 

An important part of the rehabilitation process is motivating people to make health-conscious life choices and seek care as early as possible. The use of health bracelets and apps can motivate individuals to live in a more healthy fashion. This new sensor technology can be used with gamification in order to increase the individual's health consciousness and encourage healthy life choices such as meal planning.

The Internet of Things has created new possibilities for hospitals to increase the effectiveness of their employee resourcing and information sharing. Wearable sensors give patients a lot of information-based feedback on their health data, and can play an important part in improved rehabilitation and preventative care. Sensors, mobile apps and gamification can therefore enable the health-care sector to make huge advances in the long-term improvement of people's health.

The massive amounts of data generated in the health-care sector today can give us countless insights — We just need to utilise them properly. At Cognizant we call these valuable data spheres "Patient Halos". IT reform in the health-care sector should include a strategy for developing the data analysis capacity needed to unleash the power from the combined Halos for all patients, health-care employees and hospitals. However, in order to realise the potential of the connected preventative care market, we require a unified strategy for how the technology can be used as efficiently as possible.