The Internet of (Health) Things

March 12, 2015

The digital revolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) has advanced the fields of home automation, automotive, energy and manufacturing, and healthcare is next.

The digital revolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most significant and positive disruptive innovations in recent times. By enabling physical objects to communicate through the Internet, share data, and apply intelligent analytics and algorithms to that data, the IoT is turning the world into an always-connected, always-on information ecosystem.

We have already seen IoT’s significant advancements in home automation, automotive, energy and manufacturing and now our industry is primed to take advantage.

While technology has always played an important role in healthcare, our version of the Internet of (Health) Things (IoHT) has the potential to redefine and transform how we improve the health experience, increase quality and optimize costs for all--from the healthy to those with the most complex chronic conditions.

Improved access

Access to healthcare has historically been tethered to available resources and expertise in a given location. IoHT, however, enables expertise to be scaled on a global basis, including telehealth and telesurgery. Both technologies may overcome barriers to access; while further advancements can leverage artificial intelligence and insights gained from loHT to assist clinicians with real-time surgical decisions using instantaneous evidence-based guidance.

This will improve access and contribute to better quality. Real-time monitoring and dynamic reporting of key clinical indicators will improve efficiency and effectiveness to create better patient experiences.

Increased quality

The ability to better diagnose diseases, develop personalized treatment plans and monitor the effectiveness of those regimens is being enhanced with the combined forces of connected sensor data and advanced analytics.

And let’s not forget the pervasive fitness devices: IoHT provides the platform to track, analyze, and share data with clinicians.

Care quality is enhanced by the ability to create a longitudinal view of an individual’s health while also bridging the data gap that occurs between office visits, allowing clinicians to better develop and modify treatment regimens.

NEXT: Optimized costs

 

Optimized costs

IoHT will empower the new healthcare consumers to make informed decisions based on tracking and rewarding their activity levels, and, those with chronic conditions can receive real-time feedback on how their lifestyle decisions impact their health. The continuous flow of data shared between individuals and their clinicians will create mechanisms to optimize the use of healthcare resources and spend.

As IoHT continues to evolve, we can expect the emergence of new applications, tools and systems that will create opportunities for existing stakeholders to redefine their role, while facilitating the introduction of new players. Ultimately, the industry will benefit from the collaboration and insight gained from this new platform.

Looking ahead

For our part, Cigna is leveraging IoHT to build upon our global platform, including partnerships and investments for innovative mobile apps, application curation platforms, and integrated instrumentation experiences as we continually enhance and refine our digital health ecosystem in order to:

  • Drive mobile technology to meet customers where they are with fun and engaging new approaches such as gamification;

  • Bring the exam room to the patient through device instrumentation;

  • Provide a personalized, integrated clinical experience by leveraging big data.

As IoHT continues to evolve, Cigna will find new ways to integrate health and wellness into the daily lives and habits of our customers that result in increased engagement and better health outcomes by using innovation to help people improve their health, well-being and sense of security.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Boxer is executive vice president & global chief information officer for Cigna Corp., and MHE editorial advisory board member.