Network technology and health system innovation


Nokia’s Karl Bream on the relationship between health system innovation priorities and network technology

Health systems are investing in innovation primarily to improve access, boost analytics capabilities, and increase patient engagement, according to recently published research from the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM).

What’s a common thread uniting these innovation focus areas? Connectivity, says Karl Bream, Vice President of Strategy and Portfolio, Nokia Enterprise.

“Networking technology that offers broad coverage and is secure to enable applications is foundational for information-sharing between systems or groups, telemedicine, live video, and so many more innovative initiatives at health systems,” Bream said.

Health system network utilization has burgeoned with the rise of digital health and market research points to continued growth. In 2018, Grand View Research valued the internet of medical things market at $147.1 billion, suggesting the market would grow by almost 20% to become valued at over $500 billion by 2025. Rock Health reported the pace of investment in digital health in the first half of 2019 is on track to potentially break 2018’s “record-breaking annual funding total” in digital health.

[Download “Trends for Scaling Innovation in Health Care” Report]

Health care is at a digital inflection point and connectivity is central

IT infrastructure once had a simpler job; now, it must power connected devices, health record access and information-sharing, and help health systems maximize cloud-based APIs, algorithms, artificial intelligence, and much more.

As needs have changed, networks have been required to evolve. Heavy utilization can cause interference; growth of connected devices complicates cybersecurity; and as augmented reality and other tools become available, health systems need networks of higher speed, lower latency, and greater reliability and security.

“The industry is at an inflection point,” Bream said. “Previously, much of the connectivity in enterprises was either wired or more suited to general business requirements. Prevalent today is the appearance of private wireless connectivity. This provides the higher performance capabilities needed for real-time health care innovations, such as advanced telemedicine.”

[Watch the CCM webinar: How top health systems build and implement innovation]


Networks are key for health care innovation

Bream believes advanced network 5G will have a strong impact on health system ability to innovate in the era of real-time health care. Bream described 5G capabilities at an August 2019 digital health conference in Boston called, where he spoke on a panel called Accelerating Health Care Innovation.

“Connection is pliant and can be adapted based on application and usage. Systems can change how quickly and how much data can be pushed through based on the criticalness of that data,” he said.

Advanced networks allow sharing of large 2D and 3D medical images and video in real-time, with delays so microscopic that they cannot be detected by the human eye. They also open the industry to advancements in care and provide patients with evolved access to care. Overseeing or conducting surgery from a remote location is just one example of how network capacity is central to patient care, and opens new horizons.

An operational example is real-time analytics. One forecast suggests health care will be the highest data-producing industry by 2025, and the CCM’s innovation research identified IT/data analytics as a top innovation investment area for health systems in 2018. It’s likely that analytics will remain a priority as systems generate greater volumes of data and finesse their ability to derive timely, actionable insights.

[Infographic: Six practices for scaling innovation in health care]

For more on network innovation, explore Nokia’s case study about real-time health care.

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