Industry Trend Analysis - Vodafone Will Leverage IoT Capabilities For Healthcare Applications - JAN 2018

BMI View: Within the Internet of Things (IoT), healthcare will remain one the biggest opportunities for cellular companies. This is exemplified by Vodafone, which will leverage its IoT network for an increasing num ber of healthcare applicat ions. We expect further partnerships between technology players capable of providing widespread co nnectivity and health technology com panies develop ing IoT solutions.

Vodafone claims that connected solutions based around the Internet of Things (IoT) will help people better adhere to their medical treatment programmes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that adherence for long term conditions such as hypertension, cancer and HIV stands at only around 50%. As a result, patients' chances of recovery and symptom relief are reduced. Better approaches to adherence have been estimated to bring half of the non-adherent population onside. [1]

According to the Vodafone white paper (supported by Bernard Vrijens, Professor in public health at the University of Liege, Belgium), bringing together smart devices, connectivity and the cloud, IoT can lead to more effective healthcare. It will encourage patients to follow their treatment programme more accurately by providing them with individualised information on their therapy. By encouraging them to continue with their full course of treatment, this approach could potentially save up to an estimated USD290bn in otherwise avoidable medical spending, in the US alone each year. [2]

Vodafone Will Expand IoT Capabilities

Vodafone's collaboration in the white paper, indicates that the company will leverage its growing IoT network for an increasing number of healthcare applications. While businesses focusing on goods delivery and supply chain management will be some of the most popular use cases for cellular IoT deployments, healthcare will also present opportunities (See, ' Healthcare Internet Of Things To Proliferate In Europe ', June 15 2017). We forecast almost 40bn 'things' will be connected to the internet by 2050, with cars, homes, clothing, medical devices (and medicines) leveraging connected technologies to varying degrees.

Game Changer In The Long Term
Connected Devices (mn), 2015-2050
f = BMI forecast. Source: BMI

BMI has previously noted that Vodafone will aim to leverage and consolidate in the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) market, which it has renamed 'IoT'. As its main expertise remains connectivity, Vodafone will look to provide the best networks as a way to provide the best and most relevant services, hence its announcement that it will launch Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) networks in 2017 (See, ' Company Trend Analysis - Vodafone's IoT Control As Core Differentiation Strategy ', May 18 2016).

In Europe, Vodafone has begun rolling out cellular IoT, principally to meet enterprise demand for IoT connectivity. In February, the company launched a commercial NB-IoT network in Spain, with launches in Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands also planned for FY2017. NB-IoT is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network standard that will allow millions of everyday objects to be connected to the IoT and is applicable to a range of industries.

Increasing Number Of Partnerships

The convergence of medical devices, healthcare technology and health care services has led to a number of partnerships between technology companies capable of providing widespread internet access and medical device/healthcare technology companies, which aim to improve healthcare delivery by giving healthcare providers access to real time patient data. This trend is exemplified by Vodafone's strategic partnership with Smart Meter, a mobile health (mHealth) services provider for diabetes management. With the partnership, Smart Meter's iGlucose platform will benefit from Vodafone's global IoT network to address customer demand in more than 160 countries.

The iGlucose blood glucose meter wirelessly sends blood glucose readings and other information to a personal web portal via Vodafone's global IoT network. In the web portal, the patient with diabetes and their designated circle of care can access customised trend reports and digital logbooks that are automatically updated every time the person with diabetes tests. Smart Meter's iGlucose platform, has received FDA clearance and its CE Mark.

[1] World Health Organisation (WHO) (2003) Adherence To Long-Term Therapies

[2] Vodafone (2017) The Missing Link In Healthcare: Addressing The Silent Killer Of Non-Adherence