Digital Strategy Digital Transformation Internet Of Things

Connected devices: a solution for e-heath?

According to Gartner by the end of this year, there will be more than 8,4 billion connected devices, up to 34 % in one year. By 2020 this number will go up to 20,4 billion. IoT is everywhere in our everyday life from a fridge to an aircraft engine.

Let’s focus on connected devices for e-health, one of the potential impact identified by McKinsey. Let’s focus on France, as this country has a unique mix of international companies in health, insurance and bank sector, and competitive start-ups such as Sigfox. France also faces the challenge of the transformation of its health system.

A fragmented market

According to Xerfi, the French market is too fragmented to be comprehensive for both health companies and patients. The emergence of a viable market will rely on the capabilities of the health and insurance companies to develop complementary ecosystems and on steady funding coming from the public authorities, from private equity and the end-user.

Connected devices, what for?

Nowadays, fitness connected devices are becoming quite popular moving in a few years from trendy X-mas presents to promotional objects that can be found in a gas station. 

Does it mean that these devices are adopted? Not that sure. The quantified self-movement seems to fall short as the other part of the story is missing. What to do with the data collected after the wearable devices have been bought?

In fact, the use of the connected devices is only of a few weeks, as the medical support is lacking.

The use of connected devices mainly remained for personal use except for some purposes as the follow-up of chronic illness.

No scientific proofs yet

According to Dr Jean-Gabriel Jeannot, a Swiss doctor and curator of the blog Medicalinfo, the scientific proofs confirming that connected devices improving our health do not exist yet.

Have you heard about Julián Ríos Cantú, a young Mexican whose mother had breast cancer? He has discovered the connected bra that can detect breast cancers. Once the storytelling vanished, the reality is a little different: the pink bra displayed on media is only a computer-generated image.

A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh concluded that « among young adults with a BMI between 25 and less than 40, the addition of a wearable technology device to a standard behavioural intervention resulted in less weight loss over 24 months. Devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advantage over standard behavioural weight loss approaches. »

Another study conducted by Stanford University school of medicine showed that « fitness trackers accurately measure heart rate but not calories burned » with errors ranging from 27 % to 93 %.

There is a difference between fitness devices and e-health connected devices.

Does connectivity help the doctor-patient relationship?

Two studies co-conducted by Christian Terwiesh, a Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, showed that connectivity could hurt the doctor-patient relationship, but solutions can be founded to turn around.

The conclusions of the first study on the impact of e-visits on primary care were unexpected:  « patients are using it more, and not only is that taking up more doctor time, but that leaves less time for doctors to see other patients. »

But the second study raises hope with three levers of actions identified to turn around some of those adverse effects:

    – Rethinking the patient-centred medical home by empowering non-physicians to do certain things but without going to the physician. The connected devices could be the data link in a paperless approach;

    – using algorithms to sort out the medical data collected through connected devices to sort out what is clinically relevant;

    – using machine learning to give the patient more autonomy in a self-service approach.

Connectivity offers real opportunities for rethinking the relation doctor-patient relationship.

How much would you sell your data?

In the latest report Connected Life 2018, Kantar TNS reports that French consumers are somewhat sceptical about digital as being more and more conscious about the price to pay to use connected devices. Thus, more than half (57 %) of them oppose the connected devices entirely with the measurement of their activities, even if they facilitate their everyday life and 51% of them are worried by the quantity about personal information.

In September 2017, Kaspersky Lab opened a pop-store in east London’s old street station. Prints and merchandise by street artist Ben Eine could be bought with personal data as a currency. This social experiment is very instructive.

Cyber attack threats on personal data

Companies and States are today under the threat of cyber attacks. This is taken seriously by European and French authorities. 

Europol and ENISA jointly set-up a dedicated two-day conference (18-19 October 2017) on the security challenges of IoT. It was reported that more than 250 participants from the private sector, security community, law enforcement, the European Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT) community and academia.

The French authority, the « CNIL », has to define personal data as « any information relating to an identified or identifiable individual ». The GPDR law data protection will be enforced on May, 25th 2018. The penalty for a company is up to 20 millions euros or 4 % of worldwide annual turnover.

To conclude

Connected devices are part of the solution to the social issues France faces about the transformation of its health system. A technological solution that shares vital information: personal data.

To foster patients’ trust and turn this endeavour into a success, one should ensure that the data embedded in these systems is highly protected.



Link Simpson CDW Networking August 31st, 2017. “The Right IoT Consultant Is Key for a Successful Digital Transformation”. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed on April 24th, 2018]; DNAFit Blog. “Do You Have To Do 10 000 Steps A Day?”. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed on April 24th, 2018]; Wharton Health Economics Podcasts September 26th, 2017. “Does Connectivity Help  or Hurt the Doctor-Patient Relationship?”. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed on April 24th, 2018]; Billington Cyber security blog. “IoT and Security: Europe’s Perspective”. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed on April 24th, 2018]

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