MedFuse fireside chat: Enabling frictionless IoT connectivity for healthcare and wellbeing with eSIM

MedFuse fireside chat: Enabling frictionless IoT connectivity for healthcare and wellbeing with eSIM

Within the healthcare and wellbeing sector, there is always much discussion about the future of global connectivity and how best to implement new technologies and digital transformations to ensure patients are getting the very best care. One such technology is something we at Truphone are very familiar with: eSIM.

At its very core, Truphone is a global organisation. We provide connectivity to businesses from countries on all continents, whether they operate from home or across borders. Therefore, understanding the wants and needs of global corporations (whether that’s in healthcare, finance or robotics) is in our DNA. It is this DNA that has enabled us to provision 8 million eSIMs since 2018, and be chosen to work alongside our longstanding partner Apple in the launch of its latest feature for Apple Watch: Family Setup.

Family Setup allows kids and older family members of the household who do not have an iPhone to enjoy Apple Watch— an endeavour which Truphone is supporting in six key markets across the world: the USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Poland.

Measures like Family Setup which make the monitoring of one’s health and wellbeing easier and more seamless are obviously a big discussion point in healthcare. But it’s not always as simple as celebrating innovation.

In this fireside chat, Matthew Zimmerman, Senior Director IoT Business Development Strategic Partnerships, North America at Truphone and Scott Nelson, PhD, Digital transformation specialist, sit down to discuss the impact of eSIM and other emerging technologies which are enabling frictionless connectivity and propelling healthcare forward.

Shifting focus towards the consumer

For healthcare companies, the success rate of a tech giant like Apple making progressive steps into health monitoring can be both a blessing and a curse. That’s why a lot of healthcare companies, providers and IoT device manufacturers have a healthy amount of fear of Apple: because they are first and foremost a consumer company.

On this subject, Zimmerman said: “Healthcare could do with taking a leaf out of Apple’s book and begin thinking more with the consumer in mind. Often, designing for a consumer is more of a statistical process, you have to be able to switch from  looking at users as individuals and more as a group. When you can look at people as a group, you can not only make better business decisions, but you can also make better public health decisions impacting a larger number of people.”

The implementation of eSIM, for instance, is a great example of how Apple has analysed the demands of its user and gone on to deliver. Since 2018, every Apple device has been eSIM-enabled. In healthcare, eSIM can make a huge difference. And while it’s already transforming some tech—its full potential is far from realised, currently.

Zimmerman: “Looking at head-mounted displays and other wearables, oftentimes size is thought to be the big differentiator. However, really the large gap is between Nano4FF and eSIM MFF2, because by not having to have a SIM card that has to be plugged into a device, you eliminate a port, and you can dynamically switch from a carrier over the air seamlessly. This means that we can think about the connected healthcare or medical device more in terms of software and connectivity rather than as a physical item. We can spend more energy on creating value through services and outcomes rather than whether something fits or whether something will be available.”

Another crucial catalyst for frictionless connectivity and future-proofing the healthcare sector is interoperability. The demand for interoperable technology, whether that’s smart TV systems or IoT trackers, is only going to increase.

Let’s take Smart TVs as an example. Where before, Netflix had the monopoly on TV streaming, the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and Hulu are now all household names in their own right. It would be foolish for smart TV manufacturers to continue (as they have done in the past by putting Netflix buttons on remotes) to only cater to one brand. Consumers and businesses alike require technology that works in harmony with other systems.

It’s the same for healthcare IoT devices and eSIM. eSIM is a gateway to interoperability, as Zimmerman goes on to explain: “Interoperability is going to be very big going forward. Every device that Apple rolls out today has eSIM capability. If they are looking to scale their efforts from a macro-factory perspective, this is essential. A lot of what you see today is a fragmented industry, but with eSIM technology, we’re going to see a surge in connected devices. After all, the average person in the United States has 10 connected devices already.”

Changes brought about by Covid-19

We wouldn’t accurately be able to discuss the latest developments in healthcare without touching on the monumental impact of Covid-19 in 2020.

Covid-19 forced all of us, regardless of industry, to function remotely—leaving many on the back foot, trying to catch up.

In healthcare, it became imperative to be able to provide care remotely as a way of minimising infections. With many patients needing round-the-clock monitoring, technology was there to step in, but it was connectivity that afforded peace of mind.

Where before, many health monitoring of tracking devices were powered by Bluetooth, the need for a more seamless, stable connection – such as cellular – came to the forefront this year.

On this, Scott Nelson said: “From a healthcare perspective, you may want to look at products used for continuous monitoring. Many devices today, for the most part, are Bluetooth connected, which means that the user needs to be near a phone and set up to work with a phone—which not everyone is, especially elderly patients.

What’s more, Bluetooth devices lack the security credentials that cellular has—the
ability to ensure that data is going from the point of a device to the point in the cloud. This reduces the number of points of failure and exposure to risk, since carriers are taking care of the security. Almost every day you hear about security compromises, and if you’re talking about devices moving through different firewalls, we are talking about different points of failure and higher risks.”

In these instances, and in the midst of a global pandemic, cellular has the edge.

Closing words

This year has shown us that seamless IoT connectivity in healthcare is no longer a nice-to-have—it’s indispensable. And it’s the only way forward.

eSIM technology is enabling the healthcare industry to better equip itself with the very best tools and monitoring services, providing peace of mind at a global scale, as well as transforming the wearable market.

As Zimmerman said: “Wearables are a crucial part of healthcare. They enlighten people to the fact that patients are consumers and consumers are patients.”

See how Truphone’s eSIM-powered IoT connectivity can help health and wellbeing device makers and solution providers.

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