As someone with over a decade of experience in various aspects of healthcare, Cathy called upon me to craft a blog series on healthcare and the IoT. I was charged to think and write about potential applications, how big data is impacting the patient experience and perhaps some real-world use cases.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, as I dug into stats and studies on one of my favorite research websites, I quickly learned how people define and refer to “Healthcare IoT” runs far and wide – and isn’t really simple in the least. In fact, Forbes contributor TJ McCue reports that by 2020, the IoT in healthcare will be a $117 billion market.
With my years of experience partnering with and writing for hospitals, health networks and doctor’s offices, wanting to better understand how the IoT is impacting healthcare was a no-brainer. Several hours of research in, and I’ve learned that there are many potential applications for the IoT within the healthcare industry, one of the most rapidly changing and technologically evolving verticals in the world.
Framing up Healthcare IoT
Because the IoT in general – as well as Healthcare IOT specifically – is defined by lots of people in lots of different ways, let’s start by shoring up the definition for how I’ll be discussing it. A Goldman-Sachs analysis of the topic by David H. Roman and Kyle D. Conlee provides an excellent starting point for my review of healthcare IoT, so I’d like to use their definition:
“Platforms that create actionable patient data to aid in the treatment or prevention of diseases outside of the traditional care setting, drastically reducing costs in the process.” (9)
Roman and Conlee’s definition is very useful, I think, because they restrict the types of devices, technologies and networks that are included in Healthcare IoT. Instead of considering every gadget and device with an Internet connection and the potential to generate data – as sometimes happens in the burgeoning world of the IoT – we will consider only those technologies that generate, store and transmit meaningful data that have the potential to make a measurable difference in terms of patient experience, quality of care and healthcare costs.
The time is right for Healthcare IoT
You might be thinking that there’s not much to argue with there: of course the healthcare industry should be investing in technologies and practices that improve the patient experience and help to reduce costs at a time when healthcare costs seem to only be rising at an astronomical rate. But, how do we know that now is the right time to invest in the IoT in the healthcare sector? Roman and Conlee provide some pretty convincing proof points:
- Near-universal digitalization of clinical data with EMR (Electronic Medical Records)
- Shift from fee-for-service payment model to fee-for-value payment model
- Dramatic increase in high-deductible insurance plans that transfer more of the health cost burden to consumers
- Big players – with big dollars – investing in the space
- High rates of smartphone usage, even among older segments of the population
The potential for big impact with Healthcare IoT
As you can see, there is a lot to explore when it comes to the IoT and possible applications within healthcare. So, for the next few posts in this series I will explore how integration with the IoT can provide real value in the following areas:
- Remote patient diagnostics and monitoring – How healthcare professionals can use Internet-ready devices to be more proactive, keep patients happier and better manage chronic and acute conditions
- Telehealth – How technologies like Skype and FaceTime could enable doctors and their staff to see more patients more quickly and from a wider geographical area
- Behavior modification – How transmitting and storing health data via the IoT can foster healthier lifestyles and lead to measurable improvements in chronic health conditions
What are your initial thoughts and reactions? How do you see the IoT changing the healthcare landscape in the coming months and years?
McCue, TJ. “$117 Billion Market for Internet of Things In Healthcare By 2020.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2015/04/22/117-billion-market-for-internet-of-things-in-healthcare-by-2020/#41c695702471. Published 22 April 2015.
Roman, David H. and Kyle D. Conlee. The Digital Revolution Comes to US Healthcare. Internet of Things, Vol. 5. Equity Research, Goldman-Sachs. Published 29 June 2015.