For the first time in several months, IOT conversations in the media and on social channels ticked upward on Big Valley’s Top Conversations in Tech list. IOT ranked No. 37, up one spot from No. 38 in January. The topic also registered a healthy 11% increase in coverage volume from January to February – from 21,648 stories to 23,926.
One obvious driver of IOT coverage (as well as a reason the term on its own ranks poorly) is just how ubiquitous it is. Given the current COVID crisis, let’s consider IOT in healthcare for instance. One market assessment firm released a report in 2018 with numbers that boggle the mind: “the global IoT in healthcare market size is projected to reach USD 534.3 billion by 2025.”
So that’s more than a half-trillion dollars – with a T. And candidly what boggles my mind is that it’s that low. Consider the role IOT plays in distributing COVID vaccines. You’re probably using your phone to sign up and get notifications on appointment times and available vaccines. IOT sensors tell suppliers where vaccines are at any given time. Doctors and nurses administering doses check your information against electronic health records. And that’s just three simple examples.
Of course, the reality is those three simple examples are hardly universal, even in 2021. Many folks don’t have internet access, much less a smartphone. Adoption of EHRs is picking up, but consider this – Californians aren’t being asked to show proof of anything to get vaccinated at Moscone Center in San Francisco, even though you must fit into a certain age group and other health-related criteria to qualify at this point. They’re not checking your health records – just asking for an ID. In other words, anyone can get in that line and get a shot, no questions asked. As for supply chain, the vaccine is moving around well, but not with full visibility. The United States hasn’t administered an approximate 32 million doses that have been distributed as of March 16; it is unclear if these unadministered doses are expired, unused, or are still frozen. We may be well ahead of January projections of 100 million doses administered by April. But 32 million is roughly 1/10th of the nation. If we had a true IOT health system, we’d be alerting people and healthcare workers of unexpectedly available doses at a far better rate.
So a half trillion dollars by 2025? That’s not enough, even for an aging report. Heck, it’s one-fourth of the recently signed relief bill. If, God forbid, we need to vaccinate the nation again in 2025, I’d like to think that IOT technology is going to make it a whole lot easier – easy sign-ups and patient identification procedures, universal adoption of EHRs, and a bead on the supply chain that’s so tight – and so publicly available – that barely a dose gets wasted.
Hopefully, we won’t find out. But if we do, I suspect that 2025 projection’s off by a factor of 10.