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August 7, 2017

Complex clinical trials, controlling medical systems downtime, cumbersome regulatory documentation and skillset scarcity are the key pain points that hinder achieving a Smart City with connected healthcare and medical systems. Though the life sciences and healthcare industry is evolving, a huge chunk of the industry is still, largely not digitized.

Leading Smart City standard organizations like ISO (37120) or the ITUs of the world, have defined healthcare as a key yardstick to measure the city’s overall Smart City score. In order to strengthen their bid to be acknowledged as a Smart City, governments including US (city – Hawaii, Mississippi and so on), Saudi Arabia and Chile among others are focusing on associated KPIs which ties closely to the city’s medical infrastructure.

With a clear rationale, the next step is to pin point the challenges in this journey. The current medical landscape encounters three major challenges in achieving Smart City healthcare targets

  • Continuous year on year increase in medical cost
  • Widening gap between required and available medical workforce
  • Lack of platforms to share centrally available clinical data in real time

The Internet of Things (IoT) powered by the Digital Five forces (Mobility, Big Data, Cloud, Social and Robotics & Artificial Intelligence (AI)), is transforming these challenges into opportunities. The figure illustrates Smart City KPIs, key inhibitors and how the IoT could help achieve these targets.

Smart City Healthcare & Medical systems (KPIs – Inhibitors – IoT play)

Medical costs can be controlled through remote patient and equipment monitoring (precise medication, remote ICUs, predictive maintenance) with real time risk event prediction. Widening skillset gap can be bridged through on-the-go stakeholder collaboration and improving utilization rates (of caregivers and medical equipment). The saved bandwidth can be used among larger patient group, with higher service level. Similarly, connected interoperable systems, enable automatic and secure exchange of medical data in real time.  Further, IoT led innovations will drive a shift towards highly matured value-based care with evolved indicators for Smart City health, improving operational efficiency, collaboration and better quality of life.

Let me illustrate these inputs with some use cases:

Remotely monitoring patient health, in their natural habitat will significantly cut hospital stays and readmissions for health monitoring. This will result in vacant beds that can be used for treatment-related patient care. Continuous monitoring enables physicians to make informed decisions as well as offer treatment that is evidence-based. This advocates precise medication, reducing adverse impact on patient health and unnecessary loads on payers.

Another use case is in the clinical trials space, with the integration between Electronic Patient Reported Outcome (ePRO) and cloud-based Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems. This enables automatic and secure import of clinical data from the ePRO directly into the electronic data capture system, eliminating the use of paper from the current standard electronic data capture model thus making the process user friendly and highly automated.

The IoT has tremendous potential to automate processes, empower stakeholders with real-time actionable information exchanges and not only raw data. The shift to a highly matured state such as digital transformation by automating associated business processes will mark the onset of truly smart medical systems. Further, IoT-led innovations will drive a shift towards highly mature, value-based care indicators for Smart City healthcare, improving operational efficiency, collaboration and thus better quality of life.


Nitin Gupta is a part of the Life Sciences’ Chief Technology Officer’s group at TCS. In his current role, he facilitates innovation within Life Sciences. He has experience in areas such as machine learning, IoT, 3D printing, and social and digital marketing, with an in-depth understanding of evolving trends. He has published several thought leadership papers, blogs, and use cases in reputed national and international publications. He holds a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh, India, and an MBA in Marketing from Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management, Delhi, India.


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