How the Internet of Things is Driving Health Care Innovation

At its most basic level, the Internet of Things (IoT) is an expanding universe of devices and technologies that are able to autonomously sense and collect actionable data. With the IoT, a new field of technological possibilities emerges. As Cerner Senior Vice President John Glaser explains, “The IoT raises the bar – enabling connection and communication from anywhere to anywhere – and allows analytics to replace the human decision-maker.”

Glaser’s article in Hospitals and Health Networks, “How the Internet of Things Will Affect Health Care,” details the radical change that the IoT could bring to patients. The variety of available devices – from wearables to internally embedded devices – have emerged thanks to recent technological advances and provide a wide array of potential uses. Glaser points out that the advanced degree of monitoring that these devices enable, “could not only improve health status, but also could lower costs.”

When we consider remote monitoring technologies, it is also important to consider what goals we want to achieve with the data collected. Brian Carter, Senior Director and General Manager of Cerner Personal Health, divides these goals into two categories: active monitoring and augmented self-management. Active monitoring allows clinicians to keep tabs on patients who are likely to devolve into a critical state quickly. When caring for patients at risk for falls or exacerbation of chronic conditions, or for those recovering from a major illness or procedure, providers need the ability to identify problems quickly. On the other side of the spectrum, some patients will benefit from augmented self-management – a more consistent connection between regular care activities and care providers.

According to John Glaser, the Internet of Things will not only provide clinicians with more actionable data, but also “data that can be used to round out our understanding of the patient and his or her life settings.” A broader set of data can potentially improve population health and predictive analytics.

With necessary regulation and oversight, the Internet of Things will bring new capabilities to clinicians. We are only in the early stages of this new era in health care, but there is incredible promise at the moment.