Data-driven healthcare systems can deliver the personalised care that patients and payers are demanding more than ever. But who can deliver the data to support those systems? There are many players, but medical technology companies have a vital role to play.
Medtech innovation has brought us real-world data collection, advanced data analytics, and machine learning that can support improvements in safety, quality, and product performance. These digital technologies provide insights that lead to better patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs, benefiting all healthcare stakeholders.
Take sleep apnoea, for example.
Thirty years ago, the increasing availability of medical devices began helping thousands, and soon millions of people to avoid sleep suffocation every night, improving their nightly rest, daytime energy and safety, and overall health.
Thanks to incremental innovation, this technology evolved to collect and store valuable information on SD memory cards. The card could be brought to a physician who could download the data, gain insights into their patients’ sleep and device performance, and coach patients needing support on how to improve the comfort and efficacy of their therapy.
When I look at today’s sleep apnoea technologies – featuring cellular chips connected to the cloud – it is clear that a quiet revolution has taken place. Information about how a patient sleeps is collected and provided automatically so healthcare professionals can view it anytime, anywhere – saving clinicians, patients, and payers valuable time and money.
Some telemonitoring platforms even enable viewing of multiple patients on a single screen, so clinicians can prioritize patients who need critical support first, improving health outcomes more efficiently. The physician can even adjust their patients’ device settings remotely to improve therapy comfort and efficacy without the need for an in-person visit. This is patient-centred care in action.
For patients with sleep apnoea, data can be analysed to give them an easy-to-read score of how they slept right on a smartphone app. They can also watch educational videos in the app to improve their therapy use, and earn milestone badges along the way to ensure they’re on the right track.
Device data could even become a treasure trove for researchers.
For other breathing disorders, such as asthma and COPD, data from sensors on medical devices can be studied alongside information on environmental pollution and weather to identify trends that trigger symptoms and exacerbations.
Health systems have a lot to gain from engaging with this kind of data on individuals and populations. Remote monitoring of patients, optimal use of devices at home, and improved adherence can control costs and help lower hospital admissions.
To unlock all of this potential, medtech companies must be empowered and encouraged to develop the next generation of digital health solutions – and must work closely with all healthcare stakeholders (clinicians, payers, patients) to ensure they meet everyone’s needs and meet the highest standards for data security and privacy.
All healthcare ecosystem participants are stewards of data. To ensure patient trust, we must play our part in guaranteeing security and quality in a connected healthcare ecosystem. Now is the time to come together to make the most of the data we are generating.