How the eSIM could unlock the medical IoT
The use cases of the medical IoT are vast and sprawling: smart pills, smart home care, personal healthcare management, electronic health records, managing sensitive data, and an overall higher degree of patient care.
The first IoT-enabled plasters are now in use. These tiny devices can feed data straight back to a medical professional, updating records remotely.
All this, combined with higher smartphone penetration, improved WiFi capabilities, a greater number of built-in sensors and an increased amount of wireless devices are contributing to the idea that the medical IoT is nothing short of a success story already.
Stunted by silos
But it is data collection and analysis which brings the most lucrative results. And many commentators point to a lack of interoperability between IoT devices as the biggest obstacle to this becoming a reality. Many of the current devices in the marketplace have proprietary data storage and information exchange, which makes it very challenging for different devices from different vendors to exchange and interact with each other.
Integrating the different IoT devices so they can exchange data – interoperability – is difficult, particularly in the absence of any common framework or standard. And it's holding back the medical IoT from reaching its potential.
A step towards full interoperability
When scientists linked two networks to build a 'network of networks', the internet was born. IoT needs a similar solution, a 'platform of platforms' that allows seamless connectivity between every device and every provider—full interoperability.
The introduction of the eSIM may be an important, if convoluted, step towards full interoperability for the medical IoT. Firstly, liberating the network from unsecured WiFi connections with the eSIM would add a bulletproof level of security—crucial when handling sensitive medical data.
But, more significantly, the fundamental characteristic of embedded SIM technology is the requirement for remote provisioning—the ability to update the SIM over the air and store one or more operator profiles.
Unlike traditional SIMs, the eSIM is embedded onto the device motherboard itself. In lieu of being able to swap operator profiles physically, remote provisioning is mandatory.
Here's the point: as of yet, there is no certification for the interoperability of SIM provision servers. This means that the compatibility of the network with individual products is completely reliant on the close relationships of OEMs and MNOs and, more realistically, the SIM manufacturers themselves collectively, who would need to ensure the eSIM they create is interoperable.
If, as reported by the GSMA, the industry succeeds in its mission to unite behind a single global connectivity solution for the consumer market – consistent with the M2M solution and, crucially, performant and interoperable between the different suppliers – the eSIM could also indirectly introduce a growth in the IoT community. With the eSIM in many consumer products, there would need to be a communication built between multiple device platforms.
While this would begin as a shared connectivity protocol, it accelerates the broader idea that full interoperability is inevitable. Many technology companies, including Truphone, are working toward a solution in which the IoT, through a set of common APIs, becomes an open platform with streamlined agreements and an open architecture that aims to bring standardisation across devices and manufacturers.
In this new world, medical organisations would be able to track, operate and control every device with absolute ease; monitor, troubleshoot and update every device OTA (Over the Air) and crucially, integrate those devices using a growing library of APIs—gaining insight into patients' needs and behaviours.
The IoT has a much bigger role to play in medical services. We should break down the barriers to growth and let it thrive.
Find out more about how Truphone is building a better future with the eSIM.