How does M2M fit into healthcare reform?

How does M2M fit into healthcare reform?

(Blog) — If I were to make a list of wireless companies, would the healthcare industry come to mind, asks John Horn (pictured), president of RACO Wireless? If not, it should. Now more than ever, big players in the M2M space are beginning to recognise healthcare as one of the vertical markets with the greatest potential application for M2M technology.

Clearly the global healthcare space is rapidly evolving. And with growing pressure from national healthcare reform movements to improve access to and quality of care while decreasing costs, healthcare providers are increasingly seeking new and innovative solutions. Machine-to-machine communications (M2M) has the potential to drastically change the way healthcare is provided.

In healthcare facilities, for example, M2M devices have the ability to eliminate communication barriers and human mistakes that lead to errors in diagnosis, medication and treatment. A recent study by Journal of Health Care Finance estimated that medical errors in the US cost up to $1 trillion per year and are the sixth biggest killer in the United States. By integrating patient monitoring devices and medication systems with electronic medical records, providers can reduce the potential for human errors resulting from misjudgment, fatigue or carelessness. This would not only increase the quality of care but also drastically reduce the cost of healthcare.

What is perhaps even more significant is that M2M is the enabling technology for telehealth and telematics, both of which provide remote healthcare services. In fact, telehealth technologies enabled by M2M have the potential to save billions in healthcare costs over the next few years. With M2M, providers are able to monitor patients in their own homes. Portable, wearable and eventually implantable sensors can monitor vital signs and track patient data, and then relay real-time information to providers. This technology has the potential to reduce unnecessary patient visits, re-admissions and the number of hours home caregivers must spend visiting patients.

M2M technologies also allow providers to remotely monitor chronic diseases like diabetes, COPD*, heart failure and hypertension, as well as manage conditions like obesity. Patients can use mobile devices to track glucose levels, heart rates, blood pressure, weight and diet, and then have this data automatically relayed to a provider for analysis. This not only cuts down on unnecessary office visits, but it also alerts medical professionals to proactively reach out to patients before a health problem reaches the expensive crisis level.

As the M2M space continues to grow and healthcare companies, medical professionals and patients increasingly understand the value of these innovative technology healthcare applications provide, we will all be in the winner’s circle with reduced healthcare costs, improved healthcare systems and all-around healthier lives.

* COPD = Coronary Obstruction Pulmonary Disease (Cardiology)

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About John Horn

John Horn joined RACO Wireless as its president in May 2011. Since that time, the company has seen record growth and won multiple awards for its M2M achievements. He brought to RACO more than 25 years of experience in the global telecommunications industry, including nine years at T-Mobile where he launched the company’s M2M programme and go-to market strategy, and was named an M2M Pioneer in 2007 and 2008. Prior to his work at T-Mobile, John served in leadership positions at a number of other companies, including Qwest Communications and MCI. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at Davis.

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