Liat Ben-Zur uncovers how we can harness the data revolution and integrate it further into our everyday health.
Healthcare is transforming in front of our eyes. From watches that tell more than time and health apps through to home health monitoring devices, we have never been so integrated with our own bodies.
Health tech is now part of normal consumer behavior, enhancing our daily lives and keeping us on track. So much so that Philips’ own medical devices and apps like the Care Orchestrator, Avent uGrow and Sonicare DiamondClean Smart are featured alongside products from other mainstream personal health and consumer industries at the IFA conference in Berlin, which showcases the latest in tech innovations.
However, with all this tech around us constantly tracking, monitoring, recording, reminding and communicating, what do we do with all that data? How do we harness it all and make sure that the data is as connected as the devices?
Connecting the dots
The world population isn’t just growing – it’s also aging, putting unprecedented strain on healthcare systems. Today, 1 in 2 people born in the UK will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime according to Cancer Research UK, a growing number of people is developing chronic diseases, costs are spiraling and access is limited.
Fortunately, healthcare professionals and the general public are recognizing the changes that must be made and how IoT could enable this. All you need to do is look around and see how the general population has already taken a step into managing their own healthcare by using wearable tech.
According to the Future Health Index 2017 - an international perception study commissioned by Philips across 19 countries that measures the ability of countries to meet current and future health challenges – only 47 percent of healthcare professionals claim to be knowledgeable about connected tech, while 73 percent of them admit that it is important to improving the prevention of medical issues. A slight disparity, but nothing we can’t change.
It’s time to increase the demand for on-demand. If we are hungry, we can have food delivered to our doorsteps, and when we want to be entertained, we can immediately stream movies or music. We can instantly withdraw money from machines or answer any question with a quick Internet search – so why can’t healthcare work in a similar way?
Imagine a world where your healthcare follows you wherever you go, constantly monitoring your body and recognizing any small changes that may lead to symptoms of illness. This data is then automatically sent to your healthcare professionals who are already diagnosing and planning your care. Imagine that you’ll be able to talk to an expert at any given time, who has access to your entire healthcare history, before giving you advice real-time.
Thanks to the technology we have today, this is slowly becoming a reality.
For example, take the Philips Care Orchestrator, which unites homecare providers, physicians, and payers with patients. It turns raw clinical data into actionable patient information and delivers it directly to care teams – via smart phone, tablet, or PC.
So there’s the tech, but how can we best use all of that information to make truly informed decisions?
The data decisions
In order for connected care to truly reach its potential and develop further, healthcare must break out of its silos. Instead of clinicians, healthcare organizations, insurers, and industry providers keeping the patient’s data in their own ecosystems, all of that information will be more useful if it was all collected, organized and access through one central system.
But would this work for all devices? For example, what does data collected from a toothbrush have to do with blood work? Maybe not too much at first glance, but there’s more and more evidence connecting oral health to overall health, and if these two sets of data are combined with information from other devices that are tracking other parts of the body, medical professionals can connect the dots and paint a more complete picture.
The solution may be a deceivingly familiar one – a cloud platform. However, this will need to be a specially designed network, built from the ground up to meet the unique needs of the medical industry. By building a regulated, secure and HIPAA compliant medical system, we can finally have a single infrastructure, fed by data through all connected devices, that has everything a medical professional needs, instantly wherever they are.
Every part of us gives an insight into our health. Our skin, mouths, blood, heartbeat, sleeping patterns – everything is connected. When we bring all this data together in a meaningful and actionable manner, we can proactively work together with our doctors and healthcare organizations to keep us healthy and decrease the possibility of ending up in the hospital.
There will come a day where the technology and associated data is so integrated to our health that we will be able to spot the signs of illness far in advance. This is how we will build the Internet of Health Things, and this is the future of our care.
About Innovation Matters
Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization. From interviews with industry giants to how-to guides and features powered by Philips data, our goal is to deliver interesting, educational and entertaining content to empower and inspire all those who work in healthcare or related industries.