• Wearable Tech Forum

“OK, Boomer…” - Part 2

Infrastructure Value

Patient identification and medication delivery errors are significant challenges today which can be reduced or eliminated with technology support. A Johns Hopkins Hospital study in 2016 identified medical errors as now being the third leading cause of death in the U.S. That equated to 9.5% of all deaths, representing 250,000 patients in a 5 year study. Technologies such as barcoding and near field RFID tags have been identified as providing significant reduction in errors according to studies cited by the Patient Safety Network of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Fortunately, hospital information technology (IT) infrastructures are ripe for upgrades to current technology, as many not-for-profit hospitals are significantly behind in providing the basic IT for patient centric care. In the McKinsey & Company publication “Connected world: An evolution in connectivity beyond the 5G revolution,” research looks at how connectivity could be deployed in mobility, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. The use cases identified in these four commercial domains alone could boost global GDP by $1.2 trillion to $2 trillion by 2030. This implies that the value at stake will ultimately run trillions of dollars higher across the entire global economy. Most of this value can be captured with advanced connectivity, using technologies that have been available for some time now.

Key healthcare stakeholders are now recognizing the value of implementing current technology and, as stated, even a modest 1-2% reduction in costs would provide payback in millions of dollars annually. Further outlined in the Connected World publication, up to 2 billion additional users (patients) could come online by 2030, due to a combination of network expansions and growing affordability of devices and services. The impact will be profound.


With the continuing expansion of connectivity and connection, linking personal identification, healthcare information, payment systems, and governmental data creates the challenges of interconnectivity and security. Islands of data need to be bridged and correlated, but there are issues. The National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington DC, when implementing information technology systems, outlines that the political landscape can be a major factor in security as leaked information can be catastrophic to patients in political and military service. Beyond sensitive data breaches, hospitals in recent years have been the focus of ransomware attacks, with tens of thousands of dollars paid out for each attack simply to enable hospital systems to return to normal operation. One healthcare manufacturer estimated cleanup costs for a rootkit virus infection in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Clearly the ubiquitous connections provide entry into some of our most sensitive systems.

Future Opportunities

Challenges to the next generation of connectivity requirements will come in the form of high security, confidentiality, authentication, integrity, privacy protection, replay defense, ubiquitous networks, and seamless interconnectivity. Healthcare helps to provide but one example of the significant savings that offset those challenges.

The Boomers built the first generation of the Internet, handhelds, and tablets, and then coined the phrase “There’s an app for that!” As they retire, new teams are coming onto the field and building the smart hospitals, smart factories and smart highways, and those who grew up never knowing life without a smartphone will do wonders with the body area network and wearable devices.

Whitepaper by Bruce Grayson for TEQMARQ copyright 2020

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