The Internet of Things was originally posted on the Nauance Healthcare blog after Peter Ragusa, CEO and Co-founder of VoiceHIT, was selected by Nuance to be one of 13 mobile healthcare experts to submit a 500-word opinion piece.
As the healthcare industry and governments around the world struggle with the rising cost of healthcare, many are looking to the future to address today’s problems. As they do, what they are finding is that, in the next five-10 years, mobile devices, connectivity and the convergence of currently-emerging technologies will spur the growth of patient-centered treatment plans, collaborative care and population management.
These trends in innovation will be the primary drivers in decentralizing patient care away from the clinic and hospital while improving quality and lowering overall costs. They also will enable us all to realize the long sought-after benefits of technology in healthcare. Advancements in this direction are already underway. As patients begin to engage with providers over the internet, mobile devices and connectivity are transforming the way people view and manage their health.
Today, patients are using smartphones and online tools to stay connected and informed. Over 80 percent of U.S. consumers search for health information online, and one-third of all smartphone users track their diet or exercise activities. Additionally, patients and providers are using social media in new, creative ways. PwC reports that a third of Americans now use social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to seek medical information and to track and share symptoms. Providers are increasingly using social media to reach their patients and interact with their patient communities.
As social media matures, we’re likely to see smaller, customized social communities emerge—organized by provider organization, disease, geography or a mix of these factors and others. These will connect patients to patients, patients to providers and providers to each other. Accordingly, payment models will also emerge that incentivize collaboration and help to ensure patient engagement, as well as continuity of care, improving health and lowering costs.
Convergence of mobile technologies, web-based software, low-power, low-cost hardware and connectivity will usher in a new era of healthcare. This convergence will occur as the so-called “Internet of Things” becomes a reality. Consumers are increasingly using self-tracking mobile health devices and smartphones paired with health apps to monitor key indicators. These unobtrusive devices and apps collect powerful data and provide rolling evaluations—alerting patients to changes in their health based on biometric and self-initiated assessments that can monitor everything from location to mood to blood glucose to blood pressure, weight, sleep and physical fitness level. For example, Microsoft and Ford are working on a car that has a ketone detector in the dash and will proactively alert a diabetic driver to pending problems.
Like the Ford example and others, new advancements in connected health technologies will mean that patients no longer have to rely on office visits to assess their health. Rather, these technologies will work in concert to alert them proactively. As consumers take control of their own health and technologies move towards convergence, emerging and growing market forces will spur on
the mHealth ecosystem to produce products and services that empower both providers and the patients they serve with tools that will enable proactive care management similar to web-based banking and social networks—online, in the cloud, from
any device and anywhere, anytime.