The Internet of Things powers healthcare anywhere

(Blog) Minnetonka, MN, USA. August 29, 2014 — Fitbits, UP bands, connected scales — so many of us (including me, says Jeff Liebl of Digi International) use wearables and devices that collect information from our bodies. The editors of Wired Magazine coined the phrase “quantified self” back in 2007.  The ability to collect and transmit data from the body, and in many cases alter human behaviour with real-time feedback, however, isn’t just a fun sport or tech trend. And it’s not just general consumers who are toying with human data collection.

Healthcare providers are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to generate patient data for real-time monitoring, which transforms the way patients, the general public and healthcare providers interact.

Let’s take a look at AFrame’s MobileCare™ Monitor system a wristwatch-like device that wirelessly communicates the user’s motion and location data to a cloud-based monitoring and alert system. The device doesn’t just collect steps or estimate sleep cycles. Its capabilities also include emergency call, impact detection and location tracking, along with activity and vitals tracking and trending. The solution developed by AFrame employs Digi International’s ZigBee wireless technology to connect to the network. The information that AFrame’s solution collects is also sent from Device Cloud by Etherios to an AFrame-developed application. The application gives healthcare providers an online portal to monitor patient data.

The wristwatch-like device communicates the user’s motion and location data
The wristwatch-like device communicates the user’s motion and location data

Patients don’t need to show up in person for regular, and sometimes unnecessary, visits. “These monitoring systems and interactive patient data communication methods are reducing face-to-face visits by 40%. Therefore, they also help lower costs and reduce scarcity,” said Anurag Gupta, Boston Consulting Group.

The AFrame-developed solution helps seniors and patients stay safe at home, while caregivers get insight into real-time feedback on health. If something goes wrong, the solution triggers an alert that is sent to the patient’s doctor or nurse so immediate action can be taken.

Data monitored in real time
Data can be monitored by carers in real time


“The Internet of Things is all about personalising experiences. Patient-generated data will influence health care the same way web navigation patterns and search criteria personalise consumer experiences on websites. We help healthcare providers leverage patient-generated data to personalise content and enhance communication with healthcare providers,” said Jill Thorpe, vice president for strategic initiatives, AFrame Digital. “Over time, combining sensor devices with powerful analytics and machine learning will help care providers get ahead of health problems and enable more scalable care models, and ultimately lead to better outcomes.”


Other Digi International healthcare and OEM customers have developed a range of products and services to connect millions of devices in thousands of hospitals. And, products coupled with cloud services are being used to bridge the critical gap between healthcare information systems. Information can be collected and shared in real-time.

One of our Internet of Things customers changed the game by developing a small bench top analyser that enables medical facilities and laboratories to report patient data in real time. Medical staff and patients are able to get results immediately when patient samples are inserted into the analyser. This negates the need to send samples to specialised labs with large machines for spectrum analysis. Caregivers and patients get results within minutes, not days or weeks. Taking the solution to the next level, the company decided to increase the power of the analyser to collect, transmit and share patient de-identified results, so large health organisations can identify vital patterns and fight fast-spreading diseases.

A Digi cellular router connects to the analyser and collects sample results as they’re reported. The router encrypts and anonymises the information, so it can be sent securely via the cloud and meet HIPAA requirements. The system, developed by the company that specialises in diagnostic testing solutions for infectious diseases and gastrointestinal diseases, compiles each facility’s results and offers the option to share near real-time de-identified compliant results automatically with public health organisations. Test result data can be collected and shared with public healthcare organisations automatically to make it possible to map hotspots for disease and proactively alert the public.

From individual convenience to cost savings and efficiency gains for healthcare providers, connected devices are not just a hip commodity for quantified-self techies. Utilising the Internet of Things is an innovative approach to modernising and affordably scaling important healthcare services. These devices aren’t just on patients at home; more devices than ever are connected in doctors’ offices, laboratories and hospitals. When connected, these devices have the power to combat illness at an individual level and to identify and help fight fast-spreading diseases throughout the world.


Jeff Liebl, Digi International
Jeff Liebl, Digi International

The author of this blog is Jeff Liebl, chief marketing officer at Digi International

A Silicon Valley veteran, Jeff Liebl brings 20 years of B2B marketing leadership experience and a track record of growing high technology companies to Digi International, where he serves as the company’s CMO. His diverse industry background includes working with corporations across enterprise networking, wireless telecommunications hardware and software, predictive analytics and cloud-based software as a service. Jeff’s previous executive roles include Chief Strategy Officer for eBureau, vice-president of Sales and Marketing for TST Media, and vice-president of Global Marketing and Product Management for Ubiquity Software, which successfully went public in 2005. Jeff earned his Bachelor’s degree at the University of St. Thomas and his MBA from the University of Michigan.


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