IoT has become the go-to technology for every industry, and with good reason. It’s everywhere. And healthcare looks to be headed in the same direction, placing a high priority on the tech because of it’s high priority on patient engagement. According to an article by Jennifer Bresnick, there are few technologies that can “personalize the care experience like the new crop of wearable devices, smartphone apps, and home monitors that have been made available to consumers in the past year.”
IoT can keep patients connected to doctors, nurses, and other caregivers in new and previously not-thought-of ways. They have immense potential to create living environments of patient care, wherever the patient is. They can also connect that information to big data, giving the healthcare field an unprecedented view of what’s happening in health. According to Bresnick, they “have the potential to improve patient safety, make chronic disease management simpler, and provide healthcare organizations with the detailed data they need to engage in effective population health management programs.”
Big data available for IoT devices will lead to analysis that can transform healthcare. Seeing trends before they become issues will be incredibly valuable to caregivers and policy setters alike. The question is, will there be the expertise available and how will people interact with this information?
The interaction piece initially seems to be a major challenge to organizations and clinicians. They are already trying to organize the information they have and adding the Internet of Things to the mix might seem like it could lead to data overload. But “IoT developers are putting plenty of effort into designing interfaces that ease the burden of sifting through reams of data from sleep trackers, diet apps, heart monitors, and smartwatches.” This increase in ease of use – as we’ve seen in the consumer space – will lead to greater adoption and greater engagement by the clinicians themselves. The key will be to make sure those interfaces work for the caregivers and the patients alike, potentially feeding them different information and allowing them to interact differently but still use the same technology.
This will help a great deal, but healthcare providers should be prepared for a different set of challenges - the one of analysis. Patient expectations are rising as the world becomes more tightly connected by technology. The healthcare industry will need to make infrastructure improvements and look into engaging people and organizations that have the “big data analytics competencies that they will need to meet patient expectations and triumph in a tightly woven technological world.”
Combining analytics, technology and medical competencies have the potential to transform patient care, improving lives the world over. The IoT world is introducing a tipping point to healthcare and when it falls the technology direction, the possibilities for improved caregiving will skyrocket.