Envisioning The Healthcare Of Things

14/08/2015 8:16 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

The Healthcare of Things (HoT) heralds a deeply personal healthcare experience, whether for advancing fitness, driving more informed interactions with healthcare professionals, or realising active and targeted therapy management. It is safe to say that the future of healthcare will be redefined by how we use technology at a personal level and accessibility of healthcare data by medical professionals for diagnostics and prevention through connected devices.

Augmented by sensors, wearables and instrumentation, the Healthcare of Things enables us and healthcare professionals to monitor our health through activities of daily living (ADL). Currently, wearables are mostly used for fitness tracking, but these devices will soon become a gateway to transfer healthcare data to medical professionals. You doctor will receive data from these devices, which will reflect your sleep patterns, cardiac and circulatory profiles, and responses to varying conditions of stress. This is just the beginning -- it will assist with chronic disease monitoring and remind us to take our prescription medication and engage in therapies. Eventually, we will be guided to make healthy choices, and our health progress will be monitored using an automated mechanism.

"Instead of relying on the patient truthfully and completely giving their health and fitness picture, HoT will bring needed accuracy and transparency."

Whether your fitness goals are to optimise your BMI, excel in a triathlon, or to simply reach the television remote faster, it's clear that the Healthcare of Things will have a major impact on each of us. In addition to direct access by healthcare professionals, also consider the impact of deep interaction with your environment. What if your car told you that you were too tired and distracted to drive? These innovations are hard to imagine today, but in the next five years we are expecting a fundamental transformation in the healthcare space. Few predictions that will drive the change are as follows.

The diversification of wearables: From watchbands to sensors embedded in clothing, shoes and sports equipment, we have a plethora of information about our heartbeats, steps, temperature, and general movement available today. Advancements in sensors will bring medical-grade vitals into our daily lives. And, as things evolve, they will increasingly work together, learning from each other, and performing checks and balances to assure accuracy and consistency.

Impact on the medical profession: The practice of medicine is cautiously slow to change. Whether it's accepting the data and readings from personal devices -- or the much more serious aspects of those devices controlling drug delivery -- IoT growth for healthcare will be mostly patient-driven in the early days and used to augment both in-office and virtual visits.

The public will be heavily incentivised to be HoT-instrumented: While being instrumented today means purchasing devices, the future will bring "free" devices. But there's a catch -- you will need to anonymously or otherwise publish your data. This practice will be tied to insurance discounts and company health program incentives, and you will be directly targeted.

Follow the money into the Cloud: Marketers, researchers, and insurance companies salivate over thinking of all the uses for HoT data and the money they will make. Your data represents you and your habits. If it's not properly anonymised, it can be directly tied to your social media profiles -- and you will be directly targeted.

"Vendors must respect that the data generated by HoT includes highly regulated information on vitals, habits, and genomics."

Collected data from HoT is a treasure trove: Healthcare data is serious. Security and privacy are of utmost importance. Vendors must respect that the data generated by HoT includes highly regulated information on vitals, habits, and genomics. Breaches will be highly publicised, and vendor reputation will result in the loss of lucrative contracts.

Visits with caregivers will be more meaningful and fitness will be more achievable: Medical professionals and other caregivers will now have data to monitor us and may even have the benefit of a data aggregation and reporting service to turn multitudes of data into actionable health intelligence. Instead of relying on the patient truthfully and completely giving their health and fitness picture, HoT will bring needed accuracy and transparency.

The Healthcare of Things is about changing lives, optimizing costs and outcomes and improving medical communication and understanding. It's also a great way to be informed about one of the most important aspects of your life -- your health -- so get out today and start using Healthcare of Things to get you instrumented for life.

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