Connected Health to Advance Patient-Centric Priorities

by Tom Leonidas, Jr., P.E.

This article is part of Wood Harbinger’s newsletter series.

‘Connected health’ is about enabling integrated care by sharing clinical data across healthcare systems. It encourages and facilitates communication and collaboration between the patient and caregivers to achieve better care with improved outcomes—all at a lower cost.

Our vision of true connected health features interface points with patients and families, caregivers, medical equipment, personal health monitoring and clinical applications to form a unified information ecosystem. Further, our expectation is that this information ecosystem work wirelessly from the hospital to the physician’s office and into the home.

The forces affecting the realization of connected health include electronic health application providers, medical equipment providers and the major wireless carriers. Together, they are investing billions of dollars to make connected health a reality as a source of new revenue streams. It is not a matter of IF it will happen because it IS happening.

How do you design a hospital that can play center stage for this approach?

The push for connected health creates several issues that hospitals must face.  First, healthcare facilities face the challenge of providing infrastructure that is resilient and adaptable to yet undeveloped technologies. Second, technology in general and connected health in particular must become more patient centric, so that the patients can better participate in their care. Technologies will need to be responsive to patient demographics and psychographics related to age, ability, language and other requirements.

Where can you go for help?

Several organizations are currently working on creating infrastructure standards for medical grade wireless network utilities that will help hospitals lay a foundation for infrastructure that both makes sense financially and provides resiliency for future applications. The upcoming Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) 2014 Healthcare Guidelines have incorporated guidance for infrastructure based on best practices.

The major mobile wireless carriers are leveraging their 4G LTE networks to make them medical grade, which will provide secure passing of clinical data from inside the hospital into the home and vice versa. EHR vendors, software companies, such as Microsoft, and mobile wireless carriers have developed patient-focused applications and will continue to do so. These applications will be put in the patient’s hands and allow them to be monitored while, at the same time, giving them a bigger role in managing their healthcare.

The Center for Medical Interoperability, formed of spin-out projects from West Health Institute, is developing software that creates an open platform to allow interoperability of medical devices and EHRs that are part of the connected health ecosystem. They are also working on a standards-based wireless infrastructure.


Connected health is a brave new world. Rather than being fearful, healthcare organizations can and should start to embrace the opportunities emerging on the horizon. The benefits include providing greater patient access, higher quality outcomes, increased operational efficiency and lower healthcare costs.  The investment of industry stakeholders in standards and guidance can be leveraged by healthcare organizations to competitive advantage. Now is the moment for hospitals to integrate connected health as a cornerstone of their vision for the future.

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