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Embracing M2M Opportunities in Healthcare: The Case of Orange Business Services and Telefonica 

  • 14 pages, published in September 2013
  • By Frost & Sullivan
  • Report Number: 1889355

Summary

Table of Contents

The Telecom Industry Realises the Potential of M2M in Healthcare

Healthcare has become an exceptionally popular area of M2M deployment, especially in the face of rising expenditures on healthcare and the need for better efficiencies. Mobile network operators (MNOs) started exploring this opportunity and are currently developing M2M-enabled solutions mainly in the areas of remote patient monitoring, medical asset tracking, and organisation of healthcare workflows. This study examines how M2M can benefit healthcare and presents two MNOs' stories on how to build successful presence in this industry.

Introduction

High quality and affordable medical care is among the greatest challenges to our society. Governments, health organisations, and insurers are looking for new ways to streamline healthcare delivery and control costs. Organisations cross the healthcare value chain are progressively realising the potential of embedding machine-to-machine (M2M) technology into mobile health (mHealth) solutions in order to transform industry processes and services. The idea starts with a connected device that collects medical data (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) and transfers it through a network to a controlling server. The data is then analysed and managed by host systems of medical facilities or cloud computing providers.

The M2M market in Europe is quite fragmented, with a growing number of new solutions covering new sectors. Until now, the European M2M market was predominantly driven by the automotive and energy sectors. The uptake in both of these industries has been boosted by legislation (eCall and Smart Metering, respectively). Opportunities across logistics, manufacturing, and security sectors have also been evident, with focus on traditional M2M applications such as track-and-trace and remote surveillance.

Healthcare represents the next phase of M2M opportunities. Rapid progress has been made in North America, with Europe offering the next considerable potential. Mobile network operators (MNOs) started exploring this opportunity and are currently developing M2M-enabled solutions mainly in areas such as remote patient monitoring, medical asset tracking, and organisation of healthcare workflows. While designing competitive product offerings, they face several challenges, one which is the ability to cover value added services on top of providing basic connectivity. M2M providers should look at opportunities that exist in managed services and system integration opportunities, as they offer a considerable revenue upside.

MNOs have all the necessary assets and experience to be leading M2M partners for the healthcare industry. Although the market is still nascent, there are some successful stories that can serve as a benchmark for M2M providers. One of them is Orange Business Services (OBS) that has built its early presence in M2M for healthcare due to its long-standing in-house eHealth expertise, successful partnership with the Sorin Group, and powerful M2M infrastructure that enables advanced patient remote monitoring solutions. Telefonica can serve as another example, as it also has a track record in healthcare and has outstanding in-house innovation capabilities that make it well placed to be the next leader. These two companies have proved to be capable of capturing the next phase of opportunities in healthcare.

Telecom Industry Realises the Potential of M2M in Healthcare

MNOs are well placed to participate in shaping the future of healthcare delivery. They own the essential communications infrastructure needed for mobile communications to become a core tool in healthcare, and have considerable experience in providing extensive coverage and a high quality of service. They have also built trust with their customers, and are in a unique position to develop user-centric services. Majority of European telecom operators have identified the M2M space as essential to be a participant and have created dedicated M2M business units and centres focusing on R&D, service development, and delivery. Persistent competition in the telecom industry resulted in the progression of partnerships in industries such as utilities, transport and manufacturing that are in vogue. In order to enhance their offering, MNOs started entering into partnerships with established M2M players such as Jasper Wireless or Gemalto. Orange went a step further and has become one of the champions in M2M innovation by keeping most of its M2M development in-house. On the other hand, KPN, an incumbent in a smaller market, decided to cooperate straight away with an established M2M player, Jasper Wireless, in order to speed up its time to market.

Although M2M opportunities abound in the European healthcare sector, this is not a straightforward market to target. To be successful, an M2M provider needs to combat a significant degree of device fragmentation, understand strict local regulations, and be capable of dealing with a broad range of industry stakeholders. Over the last four years, M2M telecom service providers have been mainly focusing on connectivity. Frost & Sullivan believes that a successful M2M provider, targeting the healthcare industry, should deliver value added services alongside connectivity and act as a facilitator, integrator, and host of solutions. This involves the creation of a sustainable ecosystem of stakeholders and collaboration partners from both healthcare and technology industries.

Frost & Sullivan estimates that M2M revenue of telecom service providers in Europe will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of % between 2010 and 2016 to reach € billion. The majority of revenue will come traditionally from connectivity, however, with a big increase in value added services beginning in 2012. This performance will be mainly driven by Europe's top tier telecom companies such as Deutsche Telecom, Orange Business Services, Vodafone Global Enterprise, Telefonica/O2, and Telenor.

Types of M2M Solutions Deployed in the Healthcare Industry

Depending on functional areas, M2M solutions applied in healthcare can be grouped into the following categories:

Patient monitoring: Patients are provided with wireless devices enabling them to monitor their vitals and conditions, for example blood pressure, diabetes, or cardiac problems. Measurements can be taken by patients manually or captured by sensors and sent automatically to doctors. The benefits are that it allows constant monitoring of health, early spotting of warnings, and rapid application of diagnosis. It also saves patients' time spent on medical appointments, and promotes medical treatment at home.

Organisation of healthcare work: Mobile devices falling into this group streamline work of healthcare professionals while they are on the go or are working remotely. They allow scanning of patient monitoring equipment and sharing of data with the medical staff, or updating medical data into patient records. The benefits include speeding up diagnosis and better management of immediate treatment.

Management of medication: Medicine dispensers fitted with special sensors can record crucial data about medicine intake- time, dose, and way of application. They then remind patients to take medicines and transmit the usage data to doctors. If the device detects a lack of medicine, it can automatically order the drug at the closest pharmacy. The benefits are that it ensures that patients receive the right medication on time and doctors are alerted about any inconsistencies.

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