The Internet of Things (IoT) Could Improve Healthcare

One of the biggest frustrations I have faced as a pharmacist is poor medical compliance by patients.  Surely, I cannot speak for my fellow healthcare professionals, physicians, nurses, dentists, physical therapists and other pharmacists, but I am confident that most all will concur.

Patients forget to take their medication, or take too much, or too frequently or they decide to quit taking it without informing their doctor.   These actions are not okay.

The patient is advised to lose weight, maintain certain diet restrictions, exercise, continue rehab, quit smoking or no more alcohol.  The patient does what he wants to do anyway.

Healthcare systems, physicians, nurses, and pharmacists are increasingly becoming more responsible for a patient’s well-being.  Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements force this issue.  Solutions to improving healthcare and lowering costs is a major effort by nearly everyone in healthcare:  hospitals, professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device and technology manufacturers.

The Internet of Things (IoT) could assist in transforming healthcare by integrating acquired data and using it to make decisions on patient care.  A multitude of objects, pedometers, glucose meters, scales, blood pressure and heart rate monitors, “electronic pill boxes,” and refrigerators could be connected to the internet.

Healthcare professionals will need to not only learn about new devices for promoting better healthcare but embrace them.  These devices will measure trends, send alerts, and provide various data whereby the professional needs to decide whether action needs to be taken. 

Bill G. Felkey, MS, a professor emeritus at Healthcare Informatics-Pharmacy Care Systems of the Auburn University James Harrison School of Pharmacy stated, “IoT incentivizes us all to work on lifestyle changes to promote better health.  We discharge with consultation and have patients continue behaviors when ambulatory.  We monitor them at home via IoT to ensure results carry through.  We reduce 30-day readmissions and start lifelong relationships if you will.”

There will continue to be more technology being used to improve one’s health.  Imagine tracking a patient’s health over time, providing better-managed data; patients will sense a higher level of care, and thus an overall active and improved patient experience.