Editor’s note: “No boundaries” real-time communications technology is necessary to deliver on the promises of mHealth and telemedicine solutions, and Xura is an enabler of rich digital communications services for communications operators and enterprises around the world. I contacted Peter Dunkley, technical director at Xura, to discuss the trends in mHealth and telemedicine solutions in the Internet of Things (IoT). Peter is a presenter at the upcoming IoT Evolution Conference and Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., January 25-28. SandHill.com is a media sponsor of the conference.
Despite the drive to use remote patient care and mHealth technology as an enabler to a better patient experience, most doctor offices and clinics still struggle with the interoperability and reliability of their IT systems, as well as compliance with regulations and security/privacy. What is happening in this area to ensure doctors/providers can keep up with evolving technology and regulations in mHealth and telemedicine?
Peter Dunkley: We are seeing significant advances in secure messaging and real-time communication, now that healthcare professionals and patients have access to smarter devices. Generally, we see technology companies working with healthcare specialists to incorporate best practices with faster, simpler and more ways to exchange information, as opposed to a single provider trying to solve the entire framework alone.
Doctors are not IT professionals, and they buy back-office services from specialist companies. The regulations and requirements for doctors’ systems vary across the globe, although privacy and security are general requirements; so specialist companies providing these services operate regionally.
Experts in secure, real-time communications tend to partner with these companies that are experts in systems for doctor’s offices and the associated regulations to give the healthcare providers the ability to bring new, secure mHealth services to the market.
What is happening around compliance with security/privacy issues in the mHealth technology in the patients’ homes?
Peter Dunkley: New online technologies such as WebRTC enable end-to-end encryption between devices (generally computers and smartphones) in the patient’s home and within the doctor’s surgery. These technologies also enable smarter communication such as click to chat as well as call and video conferencing that meet regulatory compliance for data protection.
Consider these new technologies in comparison with the technology in use today – most remote healthcare solutions still use a standard telephone (usually a landline), which is easier to intercept and not encrypted at all.
Security and privacy are key issues that everyone should be aware of. The technologies for mHealth communications will continue to evolve but are already a significant improvement over what healthcare providers have used historically.
Where are the innovations coming from? Are the companies developing mHealth and telemedicine products mostly startups on the payer side or on the doctor/provider side? Or is there an ecosystem forming in the space among payers, providers, pharmacies, clearinghouse, etc. where they collaborate and develop products together?
Peter Dunkley: We see innovation coming from a number of places including small startups with monitoring devices, providers of management software to hospitals and other facilities and large multinationals that manufacture and distribute medical devices.
What is the impact of these technologies on the storage space?
Peter Dunkley: Secure and scalable storage solutions are required for these technologies – particularly when cloud services are used. It’s important to use best-of-breed technology to provide developers and enterprises with secure and scalable storage associated with their real-time communications.
What are the top pitfalls to avoid when trying to develop and deploy mHealth and telemedicine products?
Peter Dunkley: Above all, for both development and deployment, the biggest pitfall is trying to do it all yourself. mHealth and telemedicine solutions require skills across a wide range of disciplines. You need to understand what doctors and patients require from the system. You must also be an expert in the regulations that govern the region(s) in which you want to operate.
Further, you need to understand complex new technologies like secure real-time communications. This is where an mHealth or telemedicine solution company can benefit by working with a company like Xura.
In what ways do you envision the IoT mHealth and telemedicine products will change over the next two years?
Peter Dunkley: Within two years, I think we’ll see improvements in four main areas:
- Bedside (in hospital) monitoring devices being allocated to patients to take home for in-home care.
- More secure and efficient communication between nurses, doctors and patients so that everyone has easier access to pertinent health information.
- Medical records incorporating more data and real time information, with wearable devices and better analytical tools for doctors to view trends and be alerted about abnormal patient trends.
- Healthcare will be generally more efficient and predictive as technology evolves.
When you developed the Xura platform, was there something you didn’t anticipate that delayed time to market?
Peter Dunkley: We have seen no unanticipated delays; however, these communications technologies are new and still under development. We are now at the stage where they are reliable and suitable for use in environments like mHealth, and innovative healthcare companies are beginning to pick them up and use them.
SandHill.com is proud to be a media sponsor at the upcoming IoT Evolution Expo, January 25-28, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The conference draws an international audience of IoT software companies, large enterprises, SMBS, network service providers, platform providers and device manufacturers.
Peter Dunkley is technical director at Xura (formerly Acision), where he leads Xura’s platform development and evangelizes about the technology. He has worked in telecommunications since 2000, starting out developing telecommunications signaling stacks. Since 2005 he has worked in IP communications managing teams building next-generation telephony platforms. In 2010 Peter joined Crocodile RCS as technical director and in 2012 began working with WebRTC. He joined Acision (now Xura) as technical director in 2013.