IoT now empowers consumers to take control of their own health in a highly personalized manner

The healthcare industry is embracing the ‘Internet of Things.’ From the advent of mHealth, to healthcare personnel bringing their own devices into the hospitals, to consolidations that are happening up and down the value chain, the healthcare industry is finally embracing its version of the Internet.

In the interview with Thilak Kumar, Head, FAE, APAC, Wind River spoke about Healthcare IoT and how it is revolutionizing the medical industry.


Thilak Kumar, Head, FAE, APAC, Wind River
Thilak Kumar, Head, FAE, APAC, Wind River
Thilak Ramanna currently heads Field Engineering Operations at Wind River, an Intel Company for its APAC region. He is an Internet of Things enthusiast with more than 15 years of experience in Design and Engineering, Project Management, Product Management and Sales and Marketing. In his current role, he is responsible for revenue generation for Wind River by increasing the adoption of Wind River Solutions.
Thilak has been a frequent speaker at popular industry events associated with Internet of Things and Embedded Systems.He holds a Masters in Software Systems from BITS, Pilani.


  1. Share your insights on Healthcare Industry in India?

Healthcare is one of India’s largest and the fastest growing sectors both in terms of revenue and employment. Healthcare comprises medical devices, medical equipment, telemedicine, hospitals, clinical trials, outsourcing, medical tourism and health insurance.

Indian healthcare delivery system is categorised into two major components – public and private. The Government primarily focuses on providing basic healthcare facilities in the form of primary healthcare centres (PHCs) in rural areas with limited secondary care. The private sector provides majority of secondary, tertiary and quaternary care institutions with a major concentration in metros, tier I and tier II cities.

There are wide gaps between the rural and urban population in its health care system. A staggering 70 per cent of the population still lives in rural areas and has no or limited access to hospitals and clinics. On the other hand, around 80 per cent of specialists live in urban areas.


  1. How today’s medical devices changing healthcare today?

Medical device makers are introducing transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new era of healthcare offerings. In consumer healthcare, smart, wearable, mobile and secure medical devices are helping individuals monitor their health and fitness. These devices are generating data at an ever-increasing rate and with the help of advanced analytics, data can be turned into actionable insights and use that for efficient patient care and also to maintain better health and fitness levels. On the other hand, medical equipment manufacturers are providing smarter medical imaging, patient monitoring and medical diagnostics systems allowing patients to spend less time in recovery and more time enjoying a healthy life.


  1. What is Healthcare IoT?

Heathcare IoT, like any other use case for IoT, is the collection of medical devices and application that connect to other medical devices and healthcare IT systems or cloud and by the virtue of this Internet of Medical Things, it provides a platform by which both patients and healthcare providers stand to benefit. IoT in healthcare can be used to supplement patient treatment through remote monitoring and communication, and to keep track of patients as they move through a healthcare facility.


  1. How IoT is revolutionizing healthcare?

The consumerization of healthcare industry is developing at such a rapid pace that the entire market is being recalibrated. Much of this change is the result of the revolution in data which is empowering people to live healthier lives by using connected devices such as wearables, tablets and hand-held devices. IoT now empowers consumers to take control of their own health in a highly personalized manner. And as the consumer takes more control, the business models in the healthcare industry will need to revolutionize too. This will not only impact healthcare providers but will also offer opportunities to medical equipment and device manufacturers to consider new ways of offering their services.


  1. Can you review market for IoT Healthcare?

The statistics for India’s health infrastructure are below that of other large countries. The U.S. has one bed for every 350 patients while the ratio for Japan is 1 for 85. In contrast, India has one bed for every 1,050 patients. To match bed availability to the standards of more developed nations, India needs to add 100,000 beds this decade. Also, India’s expenditure on health care information technology (HIT) is considerably low. Hospitals in India will need to increase their IT spend considerably to provide improved and patient-centric service. The shortage of qualified medical professionals is one of the key challenges facing the Indian health care industry. India’s ratio of 0.7 doctors and 1.5 nurses per 1,000 people is dramatically lower than the WHO average of 2.5 doctors and nurses per 1,000 people. Many patients, especially those living in rural and semi urban areas, are still receiving services from unqualified practitioners. The industry needs an additional 1.54 million doctors and 2.4 million nurses to match the global average.

The overall Indian healthcare market is worth around US$ 100 billion and is expected to grow to US$ 280 billion by 2020, a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.9 per cent. Healthcare delivery, which includes hospitals, nursing homes and diagnostics centres, and pharmaceuticals, constitutes 65 per cent of the overall market. The Healthcare Information Technology (IT) market which is valued at US$ 1 billion currently is expected to grow 1.5 times by 2020.


  1. How is Wind River contributing in this space? Describe the solutions.

Wind River has been a leader in the embedded software industry for the last 35 years and we have powered over 2 billion devices with our operating system platforms during this period. As part of this, we do have a very large install base of medical devices and equipment with leading healthcare equipment manufacturers. Having powered the edge over last so many years, we are in a unique position to now connect this edge to the cloud. To enable this edge to cloud connectivity, we offer software platforms for IoT gateways and devices and also a device management platform that enables edge to cloud connectivity as well as offers a secure remote manageability platform. The services offered through IoT will be heavily dependent on the availability of the edge and our solution helps our customers remotely commission, monitor, service and upgrade their edge devices.


  1. Which are the challenging parts for the wide adoption of IoT in healthcare?

The progression of IoT will not be without challenges. Firstly, IT departments will have the challenge of securing the omni-connected world. Any lapse on this part can be catastrophic. Secondly, lack of standards and communication protocols will impact interoperability of devices from different manufacturers. And lastly, data collected from connected devices may not be meaningful unless it is viewed in the context of a full health record and security this data will be paramount.

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