- The smart healthcare products market is forecast by Zion Market Research to reach around $66.7 billion by 2024, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5 percent between 2018 and 2024.
Leading smart healthcare product vendors examined in the report include Medtronic, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Honeywell Life Care Solutions, BD, AirStrip Technologies, Terumo, Cerner, Olympus, eClinicalWorks, and Stanley Healthcare.
Zion attributed the strong market growth to increasing incidence of chronic ailments, growing geriatric population, increasing use of healthcare products for targeted treatment, integration of smart technology within healthcare products, rising adoption of intelligent technologies, favorable government programs, and high penetration rate of smartphone.
At the same time, the high cost of smart healthcare products, lack of awareness about products, the need for extensive training to operate these devices, and poor internet connectivity in developing regions could slow market growth.
Smart healthcare products include smart syringes, radiofrequency identification (RFID) systems, and smart pills.
Smart syringes prevent the reuse of syringes to avoid infections. A smart pill is an ingestible capsule to monitor pH, temperature, and pressure through the GI tract. RFID technology employs electromagnetic fields for automatically identifying and tracking tags fixed to objects.
Network challenges in connecting RFID devices
Connecting RFID devices can be a challenge for healthcare organizations. Healthcare organizations need to understand that they must implement a lower-frequency technology than Wi-Fi to properly locate an RFID tag, explained MGM Solutions CEO Michael Maurer.
“Hospitals don’t realize that they can’t get away with just using their Wi-Fi infrastructure software. They think they’re going to be successfully tracking and saving millions of dollars,” said Maurer.
“But that couldn’t be further from the truth. We found that out the hard way. We invested millions of dollars in Wi-Fi technology back in the late 1990s, to find that because of the high frequency, it would never evolve to the point where it would be useful for real-time locating,” he noted.
A lower-frequency technology needs to be put in place to locate RFID devices in real-time. Low-frequency technology can penetrate different materials to track devices accurately.
“With low-frequency, the sign wave is much larger,” Maurer said. “The larger the sign wave, the easier it is to penetrate the different materials that are found in healthcare facilities.”
Although these tools can inform organizations where a device is, more tools must be applied to figure out just what floor the signal is coming from. Electromagnetic bubbles can be implemented to gain signal tracking precision.
The idea that lower frequency radio waves could penetrate different building materials can be applied to floors and ceilings. If facilities do not have the equipment to determine what the floor the tag is on, RF technology can be used to find a tag on a particular floor.
“That’s one of the biggest problems that Wi-Fi has,” Maurer explained. “Without a second or tertiary infrastructure, you can’t isolate to the correct floor. A way to get around that is to add that third, low-frequency exciter technology.”
“Electromagnetic bubbles are what we call low-frequency exciters,” said Maurer. “You can adjust them, and they hold a size throughout the year, so that you have this invisible bubble. If a tag goes through that bubble, you can assign various mechanisms that can lock the doors down or activate cameras. They could activate any bell or whistle to let somebody know that the tag is at that location. But more importantly, it’s used to determine when a tag goes on or off the floor.”
Typically, the blend of Wi-Fi, low-frequency, and low-frequency exciters offers organizations increased flexibility, precision, and reliability. The combo also saves time and money staff typically consumes in seeking to accurately identify tools.
Real-time tracking needs to be accurate for facilities to benefit from the tools. Locating tags in time can help doctors get to patients more quickly, enabling them accurately to find tools when they are needed.