The Future of IoT in Healthcare

Insights posted on 9-15-2018 by Tammy Hawes

Last month, Virsys12 was honored to host a fireside chat as one of the kickoff sessions for the Health:Further conference here in Nashville. The session was sponsored by our friends at TN HIMSS and our topic was the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare. I was joined by Mary Alice Heston, VP of Industry Strategy at Salesforce. Mary Alice’s role and experience have granted her a valuable perspective into how this health tech buzzword brings real-world implications for healthcare over the next 5-10 years. Key takeaways from our conversation.

The Internet of Things is the network of billions of everyday devices (appliances, wearable tech, machine components, etc.) that connect to the internet and share data. There are currently 350,000 plus health apps available, and by 2020, it is estimated that there will be 50 billion connected devices. We will be (and already are) swept into a new “industrial revolution,” as we harness the information from these devices to transform the way we provide care. Healthcare providers will differentiate themselves not by merely collecting this data, but by using it to impact patient experience, to support proactive care, and to create efficiencies (reducing healthcare cost).

Impacting Patient Experience

IoT, within a secure, HIPAA compliant infrastructure, can be used to give everyone (patient, doctor, rehab/skilled nursing staff, family member, etc.) the same, comprehensive view of the individual’s medical history. This can ease the process of admission, breakdown silos of information that frustrate providers and endanger patients and allow for more personal and precise treatment.

Sharecare, a Virsys12 client, has already begun using the volumes of patient data available through IoT to improve patient experience. According to their CTO, Dan Agronow:

“Within the industry, there’s a lot of buzz about capturing and storing the data from multiple sources within the IoT ecosystem—but it’s only useful if the individual has access to their health information when they need it.

Sharecare has a vision of providing consumers all their health in one place, with one easy-to-use and secure health profile that syncs data across multiple IoT devices and apps. Today, that data ranges from biometric screening results to physical activity tracked by wearables to medication adherence, and the user is given the power to share the information whenever they choose. And with our coaching programs, for example, users can provide their information to a coach, which enables the coach to deliver more personalized guidance to help a user improve their health.”

Supporting Proactive Care

Everyone knows healthcare needs to move from a historic acute and reactive model, to predictive, preventive, and proactive—and IoT can help make that transformation a reality.

By using the intelligence from IoT-captured data, providers can begin to identify “super users” (the 5% of the population who create 50% of healthcare costs) and other at-risk populations based on their age, comorbidities, utilization patterns, and access to a support network. Then they can target outreach to help individuals who are likely to require intervention, before they exhibit symptoms or show up in an ER.

Creating Efficiencies

In addition to the patient-centric applications above, IoT data can be applied to supply chain management, administrative tasks, and resource allocation to reduce overhead costs. 37% of healthcare tasks (e.g., data entry or appointment scheduling) have the potential to be automated. Many hospitals already use IoT data technology in auto dispensing units, which track and reorder supplies by patient to maintain optimal stock levels.

To avoid the costs of machine downtime, IoT with intelligence can constantly monitor machine statistics—to schedule servicing on machines like MRIs when they are not needed and before they breakdown. Staff can focus on patients and providers can save money, when behind-the-scenes processes are supported by IoT data.

Our take-a-way for IoT, blockchain, interoperability or any other “innovation”? Keep the patient experience at the center, find new ways to be proactive with well care (decreasing need for treatments) and continue to find new efficiencies throughout the continuum of care.

Post Conference note: One of the most talked about health-related IoT devices is Fitbit, for good reason. As of August 2018, Fitbit has logged 150 billion hours’ worth of heart-rate datathe biggest set of its kind. In summary, the discussion about IoT is really a conversation about data as much as it is about people. Using the Salesforce platform will give you the peace of mind your data will be secure, a platform to bring data together for analytics and predictive direction, along with a workflow engine to take next best actions based on what you learn from the data.

Want to talk more about it? We are here to help. Contact us at: virsys12.com, Solutions @ virsys12.com, or 615.800.6768. We look forward to the conversation.