The Internet of Things (IoT) is powering many changes in the lives of consumers, from smart thermostats to connected homes. But perhaps no other industry will be more affected by the possibilities of the IoT than health care, which accounts for 18 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.
Analysts expect advanced wearable technologies, smart home and health sensors, and powerful analytics platforms to generate a digital health care market of $117 billion by the year 2020, according to a recent MarketResearch.com figure. All signs point to a digital health care revolution that will affect both patients and providers.
Managing Chronic Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases are responsible for seven in 10 deaths each year and expend 86 percent of all health care dollars. A PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Initiative report strongly advocates for the use of wearable technology and remote health monitoring as a way to improve the care and treatment of people with chronic medical conditions.
The report reveals that 42 percent of health care providers were comfortable relying on results from home health tests for making treatment decisions. More than 50 percent felt that e-visits could safely replace some in-office visits, and 66 percent would prescribe health monitoring apps for diseases such as diabetes. “Digitally enabled care is no longer nice to have, it’s fundamental for delivering high quality care,” said Daniel Garrett, PwC’s Health Information Technology Practice Leader.
Highly Personalized Medicine
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, a Connecticut River Valley health care network, has developed a groundbreaking new system of highly personal care delivery called ImagineCare. Business-oriented health care administrators and hands-on care providers offered input into ImagineCare.
ImagineCare operates on the concept of ever-present health care. ImagineCare collects and analyzes real-time patient data, such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation, weight, and blood sugar. Registered nurses at a contact center monitor the results 24/7.
The patient’s physician enters a custom care plan into ImagineCare. When sensors detect a value that exceeds a threshold in the care plan, the system alerts the contact center. The nurse who receives the alert contacts the patient, either by phone or video chat, to get more information and head off potential health crises.
“With this system, we can proactively reach out and prevent emergency room visits, unnecessary primary care visits, hospital admissions and readmissions,” says Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s medical director, Dr. Ethan Berke.
Dr. Bertalan Meskó, author of “The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology and the Human Touch,” believes that the digital revolution will help patients become equal partners with their care providers. When patients can both test and monitor their health status at home, they become empowered to take part in the decision-making process for their health. Patients no longer act as passive receivers of care, but as active partners with care professionals in pursuing better health.
The partnership between digital technology and medicine is breaking into unchartered territory that will revolutionize care delivery, and professionals can stay at the forefront with an MBA in healthcare.