Why M2M technology is crucial to delivering next generation healthcare

Healthcare professionals across the globe are turning to wireless technology to improve healthcare practices as they struggle to overcome the challenges faced by national healthcare systems.

Increasingly, delivery of healthcare through mobile technologies (mHealth) and innovative applications, such as remote wireless health monitoring, have a vital role to play in the development of new healthcare strategies aimed at improving access to and continuity of healthcare – while also helping to keep costs down at the same time.

Key to facilitating wireless health monitoring is cellular based Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication technology. With the patient’s prior consent, M2M solutions can enable mobile health devices to remotely monitor, connect and communicate the patient’s health status to a medical specialist over the air.

Thanks to this technology, patients can benefit from specialised services in a timely fashion, wherever they are, even if they’re in a remote area. Complementing face-to-face visits, M2M technology establishes an additional communication channel between clinicians and patients, removing geographic barriers and enhancing the quality of service delivery.

Furthermore, unobtrusive and easy to use mobile health devices can be designed to suit a variety of telehealth purposes. This includes monitoring a patient’s medication compliance i.e. pill reminders – which help reduce the number of repeat prescriptions saving money; managing elderly patients through wearable health monitors (assisted living), helping chronic disease patients, e.g. diabetics by providing assistance to bring blood glucose levels back to a normal range (chronic care management) and many more.

As you can see – remote monitoring devices have a real part to play and can even automatically call for help enabling emergency services to react more quickly – and ultimately help save lives!

Meanwhile, consistent and real time monitoring of vital parameters or behaviour also allows for early detection of a patient’s condition, monitoring for deterioration, and thereby facilitating timely intervention to help reduce expensive emergency situations and hospitalisation.

It’s clear that there are significant benefits to the application of mHealth, however, if it’s vital that it’s rolled out responsibly with the right security and safeguards in place.

Safeguarding the content of an individual’s online medical record is of critical importance and the subject of government regulations. Using M2M wireless technology allows for automatic and secure transmission of medical data from sensors straight into a patient’s record, delivering a clear and complete picture of all aspects of a patient’s health without compromising the privacy of the patient.

It’s vital that if mHealth is to be a success that the right steps are taken to ensure the trust remains. Should there be a data breach and people’s private information were to get stolen, this would be a major blow to mHealth roll-outs and potentially delay its ability to help save lives on a daily basis.

As such, the healthcare organisations need to ensure they work with the right partners capable of offering the right levels of security, capable of communicating over wireless networks in a highly secure fashion, and utilising the the latest encryption technologies and security mechanisms inherent in modern mobile networks.

Written by: Manfred Kube, Head of M2M Segment Marketing / Director Business Development mHealth, Gemalto