By now we’ve seen how doctors and patients can effectively using IoT-connected devices to key an eye on chronic conditions – like hypertension or heart trouble. But, there are also applications in acute care settings.
Using the IoT to monitor patients post-operatively
Beyond using IoT-connected devices to monitor heart conditions, asthma and diabetes, there is a myriad of other potential applications. For example, Mathias Cousins and his colleagues from Deloitte University speak of potential IoT applications for a surgeon monitoring a patient after a prosthetic knee has been placed:
“What if, for example, a health care provider could detect potential issues in a prosthetic knee joint, using peripheral data sensors summarizing the bilateral force distribution and pressure patterns across the lower extremity? This would help deliver tremendous value to the patient (alerting him or her to see the doctor at the first hint of strain), the provider (allowing for 24/7 monitoring and the opportunity to adjust treatment), and the payer (by avoiding additional costs due to remedial treatment or prolonged recovery).”
In this case, a patient who’s just had a surgical procedure would be fitted with an IoT-connected device, which gathers key data, transmits via the patient’s home WiFi network and can be easily analyzed by the surgeon or other post-op care team members. If the patient’s new joint wasn’t healing properly or signs of infection were present, for example, the health care provider could intervene and provide care sooner rather than later. Of course, receiving care more quickly leads to better outcomes for patients.
Tapping into telemedicine to maximize the efficiency of acute care
Telemedicine – or telehealth – is when a health care provider uses technology to facilitate a patient visit. This technology may be as simple as using Skype or FaceTime to chat with an acutely ill patient, or may include IoT-connected devices that provide more details about the patient’s state.
Telehealth visits are convenient for busy patients who don’t have time to get into the doctor’s office and would otherwise put off making an appointment because they simply don’t want the hassle of coordinating their already jam-packed schedule to go into the office. A 2017 study by healthcare technologists American Well found that U.S. patients often delay speaking to a doctor or nurse when they know really know they need to be seen for the following reasons:
- 23% delay seeing a HCP because it costs too much.
- 23% delay seeing a HCP because it takes too long to get an appointment.
- 36% delay seeing a HCP because they thought the problem would go away on its own.
- 13% delay seeing a HCP because they are too busy.
Of those patients who delay being seen for the above reasons, a full one-third turn out to have a major health issue (Telehealth Index). Doctors who use telemedicine and associated technologies to see patients offer a great alternative to traditional office visits that can lead to improved overall health and earlier diagnosis and treatment. The American Well study found that two-thirds of patients are willing to see their doctor via video visit. And, more and more patients are open to the concept of telemedicine as time goes on.
Telehealth use cases
Telemedicine can be helpful when the patient lives far away from the care facility or is otherwise unable to logistically get to the doctor’s office. Telehealth appointments are also highly coveted by moms and dads who need to get one child into the pediatrician’s office for a simple illness but would rather not schlep the whole family out into the winter air and into the doctor’s office. Doctors providing services virtually can also see more patients in one day, and sometimes offer e-Health appointments before or after normal office hours.
American Well found that patients are, not surprisingly, most open to telehealth visits with their PCP. They believe that “consumers trust the doctors they have developed relationships with, and they want to see those doctors offer a service that solves healthcare concerns in a convenient way” (4). General practitioners who ramp up telemedicine services – along with other IoT-connected services – will surely be poised for growth and patient loyalty in the coming years.
American Well. Telehealth Index: 2017 Consumer Survey. Accessed online.
Cousins, Mathias, Tadashi Castillo-Hi and Glenn H. Snyder. “Devices and diseases: How the IoT is transforming medtech.” Deloitte University Press. Accessed online.