May 5, 2016

Orchestrating Smarter Healthcare

TM Forum Catalyst explores how delivering many service levels to disparate devices on one virtualized network makes remote patient monitoring a reality.

In the vast Internet of Things (IoT) market, it’s not always easy for service providers to stand out and offer something that truly sets them apart. But with the right technology partners and a little help from industry organizations like the TM Forum, they can find their way.

One of the most compelling and worthy IoT use cases is remote patient monitoring for the healthcare services sector; it’s one of the few IoT applications that can literally save lives. For service providers, remote patient monitoring offers the opportunity to expand into a new market and deliver new digital services.

We all know that remote medical services, can give patients the ability to act on early warning signs of serious conditions like unexplained changes in blood pressure, blood sugar or heart rate. More subtle advantages of these devices include their ability to reduce the hours that patients of chronic conditions spend in the hospital, and they can help prevent hospital readmissions.

There are signs that the use of remote monitoring is on the rise. In 2015, there were 4.9 million remotely monitored patients globally, according to technology analyst firm Berg Insight, marking a 51 percent increase from 2014. By 2020, Berg Insight estimates the total number of remotely monitored patients to exceed 36 million. 

But for remote patient monitoring to be more widely adopted, the healthcare industry will need to be convinced that it can rely on the technology’s underlying communications infrastructure and services. That’s why a number of TM Forum members started a Catalyst project that focuses on delivering reliable, smarter health services.

The TM Forum’s Catalysts are proof-of-concept (PoC) projects that address real-world service delivery scenarios. The projects bring together service providers, technology suppliers and large enterprises to develop solutions that tackle difficult industry challenges by leveraging the Forum’s best practices and standards.

In the case of this Catalyst, Telecom Italia and TeliaSonera are joined by CanGo Networks, Netcracker, TEOCO and Wipro to design PoC for end-to-end service orchestration for health monitoring services. The project aims to overcome the complexity of managing remote patient monitoring by enabling greater automation, an end-to-end view of service performance as well as improved quality of service.

To support remote health services, service providers must be able to provide near-real-time monitoring of various patient devices, dynamically allocate network resources and continuously monitor and ensure quality of service. But not all patient monitoring devices will require the same level of service, which ups the ante considerably. Service providers will need to deliver multiple service levels and ensure that the right network services are automatically allocated to the specified medical devices. This type of automated, flexible service provisioning and assurance is possible with more flexible network technologies like network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN).

The Catalyst project explores end-to-end service orchestration for SDN/NFV as well as the tools needed to support dynamic resource allocation and assurance for these advanced IoT services, which rely on data collected from remote medical devices. For service providers looking for their place in the massive IoT market, this TM Forum Catalyst shows how to design a solution that overcomes the challenges of delivering smarter health services via remote patient monitoring. If built with the right technology partners, this standout application could improve the health of service providers, too.

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