A view from the Center

Deloitte's Life Sciences & Health Care Blog

Health system testing out IoT technology to make patient stays more comfortable

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia is testing Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence computer system, to help patients feel more comfortable during their stay by automating some basic tasks so that physicians and nurses can focus on caregiving. Watson’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform can connect to devices and analyze data. It can turn a traditional hospital room into a “smart room” that can respond to common requests and needs, with the ultimate goal of improving staff efficiency and helping the patient have a better overall experience.

If a patient has a routine question or request, such as when lunch is being served or needing to change their room temperature, they can speak to Watson instead of buzzing and waiting for a nurse. Watson’s smart speakers and IoT platform can handle the request. Patients can also request soothing music, find out information about their physician, or ask about logistics, such as visiting hours.

Improving patient experience is a goal of many health systems, driven by the need to stay competitive, concern over nontraditional entrants into health care (such as retail clinics and telehealth companies), payment models that provide incentives for hospitals to improve patient experience, and the increasing influence of social media.

In a recent Deloitte report, “The value of patient experience,” Deloitte researchers found a strong correlation between higher patient experience ratings and improved profitability. For example, between 2008 and 2014, hospitals with “excellent” overall patient experience ratings had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, compared with 1.8 percent for hospitals with “low” ratings. These findings also held true when the team ran a regression analysis to control for other factors that might contribute to hospitals’ profitability.

Analysis: While many technologies are creating opportunities across the health care industry, IoT technology is especially exciting. IoT technology makes objects “smart” via embedded sensors and links them through wired and wireless networks, generating large amounts of data and allowing remote monitoring and self-regulating medication. Analysts project the global IoT-based health care market will grow by 38 percent from 2015 to 2020.

Technologies based on IoT applications will likely begin to transform how health care is delivered and alter hospital, health system, nursing home, and medical device company operating models. Deloitte’s 2016 Survey of US Health Care Consumers found that consumers of all demographics are open to technology-aided care. But, providers will likely need to earn their trust on both quality of care and protection of patient information. To win customer buy-in, the user experience—for caregivers, patients, insurers, and everyone else—will likely need to be as seamless as possible.

IBM, Watson Internet of Things, 2016; Research and Markets, “Global Internet of Things (IoT) healthcare market to grow 37.6% by 2020—increasing support from government organizations,” BusinessWire, June 7, 2016

This weekly series explores innovative breakthroughs and new technologies that are driving momentum and change in the life sciences and health care industry.


Author bio

Doug leads Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Life Sciences and Health Care practice. With 24 years of experience, he works closely with multiple top health care organizations on major clinical and enterprise transformation efforts and on large-scale technology implementation projects. Doug has extensive experience in comprehensive quality and patient safety transformations, turnaround and performance improvement in academic medical centers as well as organization/workflow redesign and technology enablement. He has served as the lead on a number of enterprise transformation initiatives with some of Deloitte’s most largest and most complex clients.