The Internet of Things and Healthcare

From devices that connect to our bodies to help us track and record exercise, sleep, and health information to “smart pills” that tell doctors whether we’re taking our medicine, and if so, how it’s working, the Internet of Things is poised to become the next big thing for the healthcare industry.

Consider that global telehealth — the use of remote patient monitoring — saw a 22 percent increase from 2010 to 2011, according to IMS Research. And for 2013, the worldwide telehealth market is predicted to grow by 55 percent, in terms of device and service revenues, InMedica reports.

It’s obvious using devices that can be connected to you, to the Internet, and to one another gives healthcare professionals the potential, if not the reality, of broadening patient care in ways never seen before. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and potential uses of the Internet of Things in healthcare:

  • Scaled expertise. A challenge in healthcare today is that expertise is often limited to an individual or location. For example, a doctor who’s an expert in a particular procedure can only be in one place, and with one patient at a time. But the Internet of Things is helping technology evolve to allow for physicians to be able to perform procedures remotely.
  • Ongoing monitoring. With Internet of Things technology — such as wireless EKG machines, devices for diabetics to track their data, and necklaces or belts that transmit heart rate data — healthcare professionals can collect and store real-time information about their patients, and even be alerted when something is wrong and action is needed. The Internet of Things can transform healthcare from a reaction-based process into an ongoing one.
  • Hospital prevention. Thanks to ongoing monitoring, Internet of Things technology can also help patients know when a trip to the hospital isn’t needed. The devices continually sending health data to doctors can open up the communication and treatment channels so that unnecessary hospital trips are prevented.

Have you witnessed how the Internet of Things technology can benefit your health? What other ways are healthcare professionals, and hospitals for that matter, using technology to better serve patients?

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  1. Lori

    At UnitedHealth Group we are introducing an online tool for patients. Patients will be able to go online, enter their respective health plan, enter the procedure they are going to have and the provider they will be using and we will provide them with the cost to them. They will also be able to compare providers from a quality and cost standpoint. Our competitors claim to have this solution, however, theirs is simply an estimate, whereas ours is true data specific to the patient and the health plan they are a part of.