The Internet of Things Consortium (IoTC), the premier business development association for the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, has announced it will add connected health and wellness to its key verticals of focus. Recognizing the urgent need to advance IoT growth in a sector overwhelmed by COVID-19, IoTC and its member partners will prioritize innovation in connected health and wellness—with wearables a sub-vertical—while continuing to focus on driving IoT adoption in connected cities, homes, autos and retail.

“Coronavirus has without a doubt underscored the critical need to drive adoption of devices, platforms and services to support individuals at every level of care—from preventive to emergency,” says IoTC Founder and CEO Greg Kahn. “As quickly as technology advances, so does the evolving and changing needs of our world. We need public-private sector collaboration immediately to bring new innovation to the forefront.”

Many experts have conceded that the U.S. healthcare system is in crisis, with rising healthcare costs, increasing wait times to see specialists and skyrocketing premiums. While telemedicine and connected health devices are emerging in American society, the adoption of connected healthcare is slower than expected, particularly among smaller medical practices that do not have the resources of large hospitals and healthcare systems.

In a 2016 survey conducted by the American Medical Association, for example, only 15.4 percent of physicians used telemedicine for patient interactions and only 11.2 percent worked in practices that used telemedicine for interactions between physicians and healthcare professionals. Before the coronavirus outbreak, the financial burden of implementing telemedicine was the most significant barrier. Now, the pandemic has forced the government and healthcare systems to extend telemedicine across a wide swath of the country—in both rural and urban environments—to reduce emergency room visits and the spread of the virus to healthcare providers. Just days ago, for instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries—particularly those at high-risk of complications from COVID-19—can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.

Under new flexibility granted by the supplemental spending bill, private payers are already making changes that could be helpful. In addition, some insurers are encouraging patients to use telehealth services via third-party vendors and participating network clinicians to reduce the risk of exposure and contact.

“Startups and pioneering companies never wavered in the exploration and development of new ways to give healthcare and wellness solutions a much broader reach,” adds Kahn. “From the patient-physician experience to consumer devices that help people monitor and manage their health and wellbeing anywhere at any time, companies unencumbered by bureaucracy are emerging as innovators filling a vital need. It’s time we put our full force behind them and support them.”

Since 2016, the IoTC has united the most powerful and influential executives at a succession of meetings and VIP events, as well as webinars and podcasts. The leading association advancing consumer and enterprise IoT, consortium members form strategic partnerships, share knowledge and best practices to help educate consumers and the broader business community while tackling industry roadblocks for IoT products and services to cross the chasm of early adoption to mass market.

On April 9, 2020, IoTC will launch a new virtual series, IoTC NOW, which will address and discuss the current pandemic and its effect on specific industry sectors. Register here for the first panel focusing on connected health and wellness. Hear from organizations innovatively adapting and join a conversation where best practices as well as new ways to engage with prospective or existing clients and partners will be shared.