Is IoT Vital to Well-Care?

By: Daniel R. Matlis, President

Improving Healthcare in the Outcome Economy

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the transition to the Outcome Economy were key themes at PTC’s LiveWorx16.  The focus on IoT and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and the shift to outcome based models, sparked this analysis on the applicability of these trends in our “sick-care system.”

The traditional healthcare model could better be described as “sick-care.”  Historically, healthcare has been episodic and reactive — primarily aimed at addressing a malady, illness or injury after it has already happened.

Here are a few examples:

  • Have a fever?                    →          Take an antipyretic.
  • Have an ache?                           Take an analgesic.
  • Have a damaged hip?                Have an arthroplasty.
  • Have angina?                              Have coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

This sick-care approach has it backwards, though. As the refrain goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Furthermore, sick-care is expensive and unsustainable.  But, can we apply the IoT, PLM, and outcome-based models to healthcare?

Stated simply, the outcome economy is the shift from “buying stuff” to “paying for the outcome of using stuff.” In healthcare, this means the transition from the traditional for “pay for service”, to “pay for outcome”.

Instead of your provider being paid for every office visit, he or she is rewarded for keeping you healthy and out of the hospital, as well as improving overall quality of care and patient outcomes. Much like IoT enables us to check the status of cars, machines, and homes remotely, the Internet of Medical Things (IOMT) (Read more about the Practical Use of the Internet of Things in Healthcare ) is allowing us to transition from sick-care to a true healthcare model:  Sensors provide measurements that can be analyzed to prevent ailments or actively manage chronic conditions, and outcomes are measured by the overall health and wellness of individuals in particular, and the population in general.

The analysis of health data and distilling it into intelligence will enable providers and practitioners to be rewarded based on well-care and improved patient outcomes, instead of episodic care. The transition to well-care will not be possible without the IoMT and augmented reality (AR).  Today, the IoMT includes a variety of devices, including biometric sensors on consumer devices like wristbands and watches (e.g., Apple watch, Fitbit, and Microsoft band); at-home devices like connected scales, thermometers, glucose meters, and blood pleasure monitors; and connected implantables EKG’s and even at-home kidney dialysis machines.

Swapan Jha, Vice President, Global Market Development & GTM, PLM Segment at PTC
Swapan Jha, Vice President, Global Market Development & GTM, PLM Segment at PTC

“Leading Medical Device manufacturers are already using IoT to support this transition,” commented Swapan Jha, Vice President, Global Market Development & GTM, PLM Segment at PTC. “We see this trendworldwide; all of our interactions with prospects and customers include an IoT discussion component,” he added.

To enable the transition to patient centered well-care the entire ecosystem will rely on wearable sensors, IoMT and analytics. In addition, augmented reality (AR) will play an important role in providing improving quality of care, patient outcomes and well care. AR will fundamentally change the way Med-Tech companies design, manufacture, operate and services medical devices. (Read about Augmented Reality in Today’s Operating Rooms)

One such company is Sysmex Corporation, a global leader in clinical hematology analyzers, information systems, and services that meet the high standards of today’s clinical laboratories.  The company designs, manufactures, and services hematology and urinalysis solutions. To support the transition to well-care, Sysmex plans to use IoT technology and augmented reality (AR) to drive operational efficiencies for both the company and its customers.

Using IoMT technology on blood analyzers, service engineers can identify issues, perform calibrations, and predict several potential causes of short-term failure without even touching the analyzer. Furthermore, the integration of AR provides an opportunity to overlay digital data onto physical data, providing a rich visual interactive experience.

PTC Image IoT Article

The use of AR, will enable Sysmex field staff to provide customers advanced tools to help them achieve their own operational efficiencies. Thereby improving device availability, resulting in improved patient outcomes.  In addition, Sysmex is considering the use of digital eyewear to provide information in real time to support staff.  Leveraging AR to increase service efficiency and ensure consistent instrument performance in the field.

As Med-Tech companies transition to support well-care, IoMT and AR will play critical role.  With its ThingWorx IoT platform, Vuforia augmented reality capabilities, and Windchill PLM solution and simulation portfolio, PTC has much of the plumbing needed to support the transition to well-care.  We will continue to follow developments to report on solutions the company develops to support the transformation of healthcare in the Outcome Economy.


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