Ralph Hugeneck
Director of Medical Technology, Jabil Inc.

Q: What’s in store for the medical device sector in the coming year? What news, technologies, regulations, or companies will capture the spotlight in 2016?

Improving patient outcomes has long been a goal of the healthcare industry. The traditional course – improving medical device technology – naturally remains a major focus. But we are also seeing growing interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) as a potential new resource to administer and even improve patient care.

Put simply, the IoT is a growing network of once unintelligent items – like wearable accessories, pill boxes or even implants – that are linked to the cloud by some type of embedded sensor. Integrating an accelerometer into wearables, for instance, allows remote caregivers to detect that a patient has fallen down or is experiencing tremors. Pharmaceutical designers are getting on board by exploring the potential of sensors embedded into insulin injecting devices to help doctors tell whether insulin is taken at the right dose at the right time.

Because these multivariate sensors are connected to the cloud, they offer a constant stream of real-time data for remote access or analysis. The result is an entirely new platform on which physicians can monitor and even dispense care as needed. Taken in aggregate, the constant information streaming from embedded sensors provides a baseline of data from which caregivers can detect individual or even population-based patterns.

The IoT signals a new age of data-driven health decisions and care delivery by introducing an entirely new model for “connected health,” not only for the chronically ill, but for the entire population.