The future of healthcare has already arrived, and it is digital.
Digital healthcare encompasses a wide range of practices using information technology to deliver health care services, improve healthcare outcomes, and foster patient well-being. With the advent of widespread high-speed wireless networks, the full capability of digital technology to reshape the future of healthcare has come into focus.
The Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare
Nowhere is this transformation bigger than in the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) to healthcare. IoT in healthcare (sometimes also abbreviated IoMT for ‘Internet of Medical Things’) is the use of smart devices and wireless connectivity in the healthcare space.
IoT medical devices deliver real-time data to doctors, helping diagnose disease, tracking chronic health conditions, and reducing the need for direct interaction between doctors and patients, saving both time and money.
Adoption of IoT technology has boomed in the healthcare sector. The market is currently valued at USD $55.5 billion, but is projected to be worth USD $188 billion by 2024 making it an attractive segment for businesses and investors.
Key Drivers for IoT in Healthcare
Why the sudden rise of IoT in healthcare, and why is its use expected to develop so rapidly?
First, there’s a cost factor. With ageing populations around the world and the availability of ever more effective yet ever more costly medical treatments and technologies, the cost of healthcare as a percentage of GDP has reached new highs. In the United States, healthcare spending now accounts for 17.7 percent of GDP, followed by Germany (11.2 percent), France (11.1 percent), Sweden (11.0 percent), Netherlands (10.7 percent), and Canada (10.4 percent). Governments worldwide are promoting healthcare IoT as a practical, affordable way of improving health outcomes while also controlling costs.
Additionally, there is a growing focus on active patient engagement and patient-centric care models in medicine, which healthcare IoT can both enable and support. Coupled with the increasing availability of high-speed wireless connectivity around the world, the power of healthcare IoT and related healthcare equipment can be fully leveraged to maximize positive patient outcomes.
Benefits of IoT in Healthcare
The major advantages of IoT in healthcare include:
- Cost Reduction: As mentioned, healthcare IoT enables real-time patient monitoring and significantly reduces unnecessary doctor visits, hospital stays, and readmissions
- Improved Treatment: Physicians can make informed, evidence-based decisions with absolute transparency. Disease can be diagnosed earlier or before symptoms appear. With access to much of their own health data, patients are also better informed about their conditions and can take a more active role in managing their care
- Drug and Equipment Management: Management of medicines and healthcare equipment is a significant challenge in the healthcare industry, and IoT can help improve efficiency and reduce costs. Connected devices can help patients and doctors manage and take medicine more effectively and identify when medical devices require service
- Hospital Management: Everyday hospital activities can be optimized with IoT to help reduce time and costs. Integrating RFID or Bluetooth sensors in equipment can identify an item’s location within a hospital for easy retrieval and also help prevent loss or theft of equipment.
Source: The IoT Magazine
Use Cases for Digital Healthcare and Healthcare Equipment
The full scope of digital healthcare and IoT’s implications for the sector are only now being explored. Certain areas of care, however, are receiving the most attention as likely candidates for disruption, such as telemedicine and remote patient monitoring.
Telemedicine uses healthcare IoT to deliver diagnostics and healthcare services electronically to patients not able to access traditional in-person medical services. Telemedicine has been a game-changer in remote communities and for people who have mobility issues that make visiting the doctor difficult. While still in its early applications, telemedicine may someday make the need for in-person visits to your doctor or a hospital virtually obsolete.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) plays a vital part in telemedicine. RPM devices using IoT are carried or worn by patients, collecting and reporting to doctors real-time health data about the user, such as blood pressure, oxygen and blood sugar levels, weight, and ECGs. One study found a staggering 50% reduction in 30-day readmission rates when heart failure patients used RPM devices.
Such digital healthcare equipment is also useful in managing chronic health conditions and has transformed the lives of people living with Type I diabetes, for example, thanks to the continuous glucose monitor (CGM). A CGM is a penny-sized device that monitors blood glucose levels non-stop, with readings easily accessed via a smartphone app. The person with diabetes, their caregivers, and their physicians can track their sugar levels in real-time and better regulate highs and lows, leading to fewer hospitalizations, fewer visits to the doctor, and overall better health.
Investing in the Future of Healthcare with Evolve’s LIFE ETF
While IoT-enabled devices capture large amounts of sensitive data, thus requiring effective encryption to protect privacy, we should also see the business and investment opportunity present in this growing trove of health data.
Access to real-time health data offers stakeholders new ways to not only improve the health of individual patients, but also to expand medical research, improve healthcare operations, and generate potential new revenue opportunities. As an industry flush with cash and as a sector that performs well in a recessionary environment, healthcare has proven to be a reliable area for investors. With increased government spending on digital healthcare and favourable demographic trends, the sector looks poised to continue as a reliable investment choice.
One way to simplify your investing in this cutting-edge field of healthcare is through an ETF that offers a diversified portfolio of holdings in healthcare stocks. ETFs ensure that your risk is diversified, but that you are still invested in blue-chip names that you trust.
Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund
The Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund (LIFE ETF) provides investors exposure to twenty global blue-chip healthcare companies with a covered call strategy that is actively managed to provide increased yield potential while helping mitigate risk. The LIFE ETF is available in hedged, unhedged and USD classes. LIFE.B (unhedged) was Canada’s top-performing healthcare ETF in 2018*. It was also the top-performing healthcare ETF over the 2-year period in 2019.**
Managed by an established team of industry veterans with a proven track record of success, Evolve ETFs create investment products that make a difference. For more information, please visit www.evolveetfs.com or download our one-pager about the LIFE ETF.
*Based on the Bloomberg Finance L.P. classification of 11 healthcare ETFs in Canada, as at December 31, 2018.
**Based on the Bloomberg Finance L.P. classification of 15 healthcare ETFs in Canada, as at December 31, 2019.
Commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with exchange traded mutual funds (ETFs). Please read the prospectus before investing. ETFs are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. There are risks involved with investing in ETFs. Please read the prospectus for a complete description of risks relevant to the ETF. Investors may incur customary brokerage commissions in buying or selling ETF units.