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The internet of things and the future of health care

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Sensors drive medical devices
    1. Wearables help spur health IoT
    2. Citizen Science moves health IoT beyond personal
  3. Needed: data-as-a-service for health IoT
  4. Key takeaways
  5. About Jody Ranck

1. Summary

The algorithmic revolution has arrived in health care and medicine, and is already making an impact on new business models and the underlying structure of health systems. Meanwhile in the broader digital economy the buzz is growing around machine-to-machine (M2M) and the internet of things (IoT). The question is where people fit into the M2M and IoT universe and what impact that intersection will have in the health economy — an area that amounts to nearly 20 percent of the overall U.S. economy.

New types of sensor technology, rapidly growing analytics enabled by big data, and the new business models that IoT may catalyze will have a major impact on health care in the future.

Health care systems rely on complex supply chains, complex diagnostic and monitoring technology. Increasingly, where the production of health care occurs is moving away from the clinic and into the home. This opens up opportunities for everyone from cable service providers to telcos and a broad range of digital service providers to engage in the health care market and upend business as we know it.

Key findings of our analysis of this marketplace include:

  • New sensors will drive medical devices and build on the momentum of wearables, which to-date have mostly focused on personalized fitness.
  • Sensors and wearables will enable “citizen science” in a broader social, political, and environmental context. The health IoT, if developed in a sustainable manner with robust business models and privacy/security protection, could bring a more revolutionary paradigm to health care and medicine than genomics alone could manage.
  • Health IoT, mobile health, and the slow transition to electronic medical records (EMRs) will generate vast amounts of data. The winners will be those with the power and insight to become the next generation of integrative platforms that can monetize those areas, which collectively we call the connected-health economy.

Feature image courtesy Flickr user ZM Yi