IoT Improves Health Through Remote Monitoring

kitty-apple-watch

As I discussed in the first blog post in this series, potential applications for the Internet of Things (IoT) in the healthcare sector run deep and wide. Integrating with the IoT will enable health care providers of the future to see more patients, from a wider geographic area and at lower costs. Data collection and transmission en masse thanks to Electronic Medical Records (EMR) will allow quicker, more accurate diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of conditions. And – as is the focus for this post – IoT-connected devices can perform remote patient monitoring (RPM) and diagnostics to improve patient quality of life.

Defining remote patient monitoring (RPM)

Goldman-Sachs researchers David H. Roman and Kyle D. Conlee define remote patients diagnostics and monitoring as “devices and applications that allow care providers to keep tabs on chronically ill, recently released, and overall ‘high-risk’ patients” (9). Simply put, remote monitoring devices allow care professionals to gather and analyze their patients’ health data without having to physically see the patient. This allows providers to have round-the-clock visibility into how their patients are doing, and enables them to be more proactive in terms of flagging and responding to potentially adverse health data.

Oftentimes, RPM takes advantage of technology that a patient already has in place in his or her home, such as wireless Internet and a smartphone or tablet. Sometimes, additional equipment such as an electronic blood pressure cuff or blood sugar testing device may need to be connected to the existing home network for health monitoring.

Using IoT-integrated devices to improve patient outcomes 

Research has shown that patients who perform regular monitoring of chronic conditions using IoT-enabled devices have better outcomes than those who don’t take advantage of these technologies. For example, a 2015 study of 269,471 patients with pacemakers, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators or cardiac resynchronization therapy found that those patients who spent more time each week using remote monitoring had higher survival rates than those who didn’t use the remote monitoring that was available to them (Niraj, et al.).

Environmental monitoring via the IoT

Another type of health monitoring that IoT-enabled devices can facilitate is environmental monitoring, meaning devices installed in living spaces that enable certain high-risk individuals to live more independently. With remote environmental monitoring in place in homes and assisted living apartments, for example, older or disabled people are able to live more independently for longer. Knowing that a doctor or the life squad will be immediately notified in the event of an adverse health event – such as a spike in blood pressure or drop in blood sugar – can help set families’ minds at ease.

Using RPM to improve patient quality of life

In a 2014 report titled “Connecting Patients with Providers: A Pan-Canadian Study on Remote Patient Monitoring,” Canada Health Infoway writes:

“The role of information technology is a critical enabler to improving health services delivery. As decision-makers consider options for delivering high quality care at the right cost, there is a need for innovative solutions that potentially reconfigure traditional service delivery models. RPM is a critical enabler for this transformation with the potential to incentivize self-management, support the delivery of care in home settings and significantly improve the patient experience.” (Emphasis added)

Indeed, for all patient groups, RPM has the potential to reduce the number of hospitalizations, frequency of readmissions and lengths of hospital stays. Remote monitoring allows for more proactive healthcare that can anticipate patient needs before a situation becomes dire. All of these factors contribute to improving patient quality of life and help to drive down healthcare costs for everyone.

References

“Connecting Patients with Providers: A Pan-Canadian Study on Remote Patient Monitoring: Executive Summary.” Canada Health Infoway. Published June 2014. Accessed online.

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.

Varma, Niraj, et al. “The Relationship Between Level of Adherence to Automatic Wireless Remote Monitoring and Survival in Pacemaker and Defibrillator Patients.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 65 (24): 2015. Accessed online.

Originally appeared on The IoT Collective.

An Interpretation: IoT in Healthcare

healthcare-iot

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?

References

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.

Originally appeared on The IoT Collective.