John Gresham, VP of DeviceWorks And Interoperability, Cerner
Internet of Things (IoT) has been a popular phrase in healthcare for the past few years, but the conversation is quickly evolving. The question no longer is “what is IoT,” but rather how can we take the plethora of big data available from connected systems and tailor it to provide person-centric care.
Until now, the industry has focused on enabling point-to-point connections for individual devices to automatically send valuable data to a person’s electronic health record. These devices include infusion pumps, blood glucose sensors and wearable consumer devices. The next level of innovation will require cognitive computing to combine data from multiple source systems and draw new insights and correlations that you wouldn’t otherwise see. It’s this artificial intelligence (AI) that will enable complex algorithms, predictive capabilities and analytics to deliver clinically relevant, high-quality data in real time.
Take wearable sensors that track your physical activity and heart rate. Right now, you can share health and fitness information collected from the device with your physician. But with AI, these devices could be coupled with other systems to identify individual behaviors that are outside the norm that could indicate serious health problems. For example, your heart rate increases without any physical activity being correlated. AI can take that information, along with your medical history, analyze the data as it’s collected to determine if there is a potential problem and alert your doctor.
IoT and AI changing the face of business and technology
As consumers, we’ve come to expect this level of engagement as technology pushes the boundaries of cloud-based computing. We expect our home sound system to be integrated with Alexa, which can also turn your lights on and off. Netflix recommends potential shows based on your personal viewing habits. And Google uses AI to process search results to provide users with the most relevant results. The expectation is these services are always available and interoperable, and those same expectations are driving the health care system today. Health care consumers want and expect systems to seamlessly work together.
It’s these expectations that are driving the market toward an open business concept.
It’s the technology that we use every day to navigate around town that will begin to navigate our health and care as well
As an industry, we need to harness the potential of IoT to drive better efficiencies. For physicians, that means optimizing how they receive the right information at the right time. For patients, it’s how to optimize a seamless journey though the health care system.
Consider the advantages of connected medical devices from a data collection perspective. When the disparate health care systems within a single organization are linked, critical patient information is far more available to clinicians and care teams across the organization.
Connected medical devices should also drive more intentional delivery of critical information to the caregiver. For instance, alarm fatigue for the caregiver can be decreased by intelligently routing critical alerts to account for the caregiver’s schedule, contact preference and even the location of the nearest care team member. Automating critical alarm delivery creates a streamlined approach that helps ensure clinicians are responding to the right alarms at the right time.
Location-based technology and enterprise mobility management
The convergence of mobile technology and IoT is powerful. Location-based technology is going to drive outcomes inside the acute care setting, as well as the consumer experience as populations become more engaged with navigating the health care ecosystem.
We already experience GPS location-based services coupled with the mobile experience in our daily lives. It’s how you get the latest coupons and ads when you’re close to the grocery store, pharmacy and restaurants you frequent.
That same technology will soon drive a more contextually aware health care experience. As location-based technologies become more widely adopted; the care process can be better orchestrated around the patient. Connected systems make sure the right information is provided to the patient’s care team, while location-based technology can direct a patient through the care process based on their location. The result is a more convenient and engaging experience for the consumer, while important aspects like throughput and staff scheduling are optimized for the health care organization.
It’s the technology that we use every day to navigate around town that will begin to navigate our health and care as well. Over the next decade, the advancement of location awareness systems will transform how patients and providers experience the delivery of health care.
IoT and security
There’s no doubt that bringing multiple connected devices together will challenge the infrastructure of health care, and security will be one of the most pressing concerns.
Gartner, the world's leading information technology research and advisory company, forecasts that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide this year, and that number will reach 20.4 billion by 2020.Organizations will need to evaluate whether their network is sufficiently secure to support multiple devices, their bandwidth and storage capabilities.
Additionally, we will need a higher level of trust for the devices we connect to, which can be improved by driving standards around IoT and connected systems. The ability to choreograph multiple complex systems through IoT and AI will be critical to drive the next generation experiences that are contextually aware of the patient, care team and the provider.