IoT & Future of Healthcare Automation

by Siddharth Shah 10 Sep 2017
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Internet of Medical Things is a space we recently covered and has led to several other areas that we are now looking at - smart hospitals, smart healthcare in smart cities and more. Part of the Visionary Healthcare program's job is to not only look at how emerging technologies are impacting the industry today, but also to look at how they will evolve in the future.

So here's Frost & Sullivan's take on how the future of healthcare automation in the home setting, enabled by Healthcare Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) will look like. A fitting analogy would be of self-driving cars, which is the inspiration for this infographic. The tech advances in autonomous driving can be said to run in parallel with our depiction.


We believe we are at the first level of automation today. While most would argue, that we are beyond this stage already, bear in mind that we intend to point to maturity levels. When the entire (or at least most of) industry matures to achieve the conditions, we may consider attainment of that level. Consider the example of IoT home healthcare (attached infographic).

How to read this infographic:

We believe that automation in healthcare can be divided in to 5 distinct levels. As we attain higher levels (top part of the image), human involvement would reduce and would be taken over by tech such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence. The sensors, would behave less in silos, and more as a part of a larger ecosystem. The five depicted levels (boxes) provide a description of the level and examples from home health, and the lower part of the image depicts the timelines to attain these maturities. The below explanation will help better understand the image.

The Home Health IoT Scenario:

At the first Level of Assistance, most sensors a.k.a. wearables aim at assisting the collection of vitals and other fitness related data. Not all such devices may necessarily log collected data into a storage system automatically - there will still be a human component necessary.

When the systems mature enough to have all (clinical or medical grade) data not only synced automatically, but shared (via cloud or other formats) with care providers (the entire care team!), we will have attained Level 2 - partial autonomy. We believe we are already in this transition, and we should be at this level in the coming 4-5 years.

At Level 3, conditional autonomy will be attained when caregivers have all patient data at their disposal, but the appropriate care team member is alerted when specific vitals fall outside of pre-specified ranges. For example, only the endocrinologist / diabetologist is alerted for a patient's rising blood glucose levels, and other physicians on the care team are only provided an FYI notification! We imagine that we would have such systems in 6-8 years from now.

In 9-15 years, when the system begins to provide automatic feedback to the patient, until a caregiver can respond, we would have attained Level 4, high autonomy. To continue with the diabetes example, a patient may be advised to have a small piece of chocolate when blood glucose levels display a downward trend (note - not when levels are low - that is too late). The diabetologist can then provide course correction recommendations, as necessary.

Finally, we will be at Level 5full autonomy when systems realize the patient may be in need of immediate medical assistance BEFORE the patient feels the need. The system can then immediately order a cab / ambulance, alert relevant caregivers and provide all the information to the receiving hospital in advance, eliminating any delays in treatment. This however, is a long-term scenario, probably attainable after 15 years form now. Note - Frost & Sullivan does not believe that AI will replace doctors.

Hope you enjoyed viewing this infographic. Please feel free to reach out to discuss on the topic at or on Twitter - @Sid_Healthcare! Also, our recent report on the topic on Internet of Medical Things might also interest you -

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