There are a lot of articles available discussing the potential that the Internet of Things can bring to both consumers and companies. In this article, I’d like to discuss how the healthcare industry specifically stands to gain from the Internet of Things, looking specifically at healthcare payers and providers.
Healthcare insurance companies, similar to insurance companies in most other sectors, stand to reap the most benefit from the data aggregation and analytics that IoT can help provide. Understanding whether a patient is engaging in high or low-risk behavior requires understanding what the risks are. Having large amounts of data to analyze and report on would allow insurance companies to understand in finer detail what risk factors there are and what behaviors increase or decrease that risk, adjusting policies accordingly.
Consider for example, a patient who is informed by his/her doctor that he/she has high cholesterol. We know that the patient’s lifestyle has a major influence over whether he/she is at risk for further complications, which would require more intensive care. The patient’s healthcare provider can offer a program wherein the patient uses a device similar to a Fitbit (activity tracker), and receive benefits if he/she can demonstrate preventative, healthy behavior.
A use case like this can bring the following benefits:
- The insurance company helps reduce risk of further complication, thus reducing potential cost
- They gain large amounts of granular patient data, which can be aggregated and analyzed across patients to help determine risk factors
- In the process, the company has encouraged healthy behavior, and is able to do so while offering discounts to the patient.
With the rise of wearables and other in-home IoT devices, healthcare providers may start being able to interact with and monitor patients, even when they aren’t in the same location. This can reduce hospital time and help improve accuracy in diagnoses. Alternatively, IoT
Consider a patient who is prescribed some medication by his/her doctor. That medication is dispensed into a smart pill bottle, which tracks how much the patient uses and when. Using that information, the patient’s doctor can make more educated decisions about side-effects that the patient may experience (is the patient taking more than the recommended dose? Less?)
In this way, healthcare providers gain the following benefits:
- Access to granular patient data
- Ability to monitor a patient’s health information without requiring the patient to be physically present
- Better informed diagnoses and higher quality results