Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

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Using the Healthcare Internet of Things for Better Patient Care

Providers are seeking new ways to harness growing patient enthusiasm for the "quantified self" movement, driven by the availability and potential of healthcare Internet of Things devices.

By Roberta Katz

As part of the “information generation,” our technology-driven world is dramatically changing our lives, impacting our personal interactions, business transactions, and the way we consume information.

Healthcare internet of things and the quantified self movement

We’re always connected, using more types of devices, accessing data anywhere, anytime. When it comes to caring for ourselves and others, this digital transformation is driving us to act as both patients and consumers of healthcare information.   

Smart technologies, like wearable devices and smart home devices that comprise the Internet of Things, are driving the “quantified self movement,” arming us, as consumers, with personalized data to make more informed decisions about our lifestyles.

In this “always on” world, our expectations for healthcare are also shifting from a focus on a single patient care episode to an overall patient lifecycle.

In the current accountable care environment, where electronic health record documentation is being prioritized, this new realm of patient generated data can build on a caregiver’s clinical expertise and augment hospital protocols.

Wearables can also create positive impacts on the provider-patient relationship, engage patients and their families during a discussion.

With the use of IoT tools and sensors, we can review our own data in real-time, from the number of steps we are taking, cardio output, sleep cycles, blood pressure, and even mood, to become an “empowered” patient.

I can begin my day reviewing the previous night’s sleep on my wearable device, receive motivation to get moving, access my phone for medication time and dosage, gain a list of prescribed activities for the day, and even receive food recipes targeted to my particular health profile based on the food in my smart refrigerator.


Read: Explaining the Basics of the Internet of Things for Healthcare


Let’s say I am trying to better manage a chronic condition such as diabetes. I can now download data directly from my insulin meter to my phone, respond to medication reminders, integrate that information with food and lifestyle information to also manage my weight and cholesterol, and then share that information with my caregiver to make any adjustments on a recurring basis.

But how can all of this information being generated by the Internet of Things as part of the quantified self movement be acted upon and applied for preventative health and disease management?

And how do healthcare providers prepare for this new wave of data to help ingest clinically relevant information into the clinical setting to deliver higher quality, cost-effective patient care?    

The stage is already set as healthcare leaders start incorporating this growing patient-generated data into their healthcare ecosystem to move forward accountable care initiatives.

The next generation of predictive analytics is at the forefront as Medicare payments shift from volume-based to value-based reimbursement models, moving to 30 percent by the end of 2016 and 50 percent by the end of 2018.

How is all of this possible? Through big data analytics and new innovations in data lake technologies.

Healthcare organizations are advancing their big data strategies by creating an ecosystem of data centered on the patient to gain additional insights on best methods of care and disease management with the assistance of automated tools to help aggregate, manage, filter, and analyze useful, meaningful data.


Read: Can Healthcare's Internet of Things Move from Froth to Function?


They are making the journey to a modern data center, deploying the capabilities of a hybrid cloud and data lakes, which deliver an effective, agile framework to make connections between raw data and turn it into actionable insight.  

This IT infrastructure incorporates diverse internal and trusted external data sources, including patient generated data from smart Internet of Things devices driving the quantified self movement, as well as the EHR, PACS, claims data, public health databases, genomic research centers, and more.

With the improved ability to derive clinical value through the use of advanced predictive analytics, accountable care initiatives can be accelerated with new data science capabilities to uncover trends, patterns, relationships, correlations, and discoveries for measurable clinical impacts.  

And with the patient’s ability to make more informed decisions and have meaningful dialogue with their caregivers providers as a result of the data gathered from their smart devices, patients and providers can work hand in hand to enhance the patient experience, improve clinical outcomes, and live a healthier, longer life.


Roberta Katz is Director at EMC Healthcare Solutions.

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