Embracing wearables, IoT and empowered patients

This post originally appeared on HL7HealthStandards.com in conjunction with the #HITsm tweet chat and is based on a presentation at the Health Care Internet Conference that I gave with Steve Koch and Russ Maloney. The #HITsm tweet chat takes places on Fridays at noon EST.

The exam room is everywhere now. It used to be a physical location at a clinic or hospital campus and was the gateway to most care. But now we can video chat with doctors, get a checkup at the local CVS and order our own blood tests from home. We can self-diagnose and track all of the health data we desire from our smartphones. Primary care no longer takes places just in face-to-face settings.

Sensors are being added to every type of device, from head to toe, to track every type of health data inside, outside and around your body. Smart diapers, smart lenses, smart shoes, smart brain sensors and smart watch apps for clinicians are already being used and are just the beginning.

As I discussed while co-presenting at the 2016 Health Care Internet Conference, wearables and IoT devices play a role in the advent of democratized medicine. BI Intelligence projects that global shipments of wearables will skyrocket from 33 million in 2015 to 148 million in 2019. The global health care IoT segment is estimated to hit $117 billion by 2020. But consumer adoption remains middling and clinical adoption only increase as providers focus on population health, interoperability and data quality.

Choosing to embrace empowered patients, wearables and IoT in care models can differentiate a doctor. What are the keys to understanding tomorrow’s wearables? Here are a few ideas:

  • Consumers compare health care to experiences in other industries and wonder why many health experiences are not seamless from one device to another, are not transparent on pricing, and are not engaging.
  • Human behavior plays a role in how health care professionals can integrate empowered patients. Consider the words and actions that will incentivize the desired actions in your patient population. Companies like Conversa Health are already doing this by providing automated action prompts and patient touch points between appointments.
  • Journey mapping tells us that there are times of day that it will make sense to use a wearable to send an action prompt, and times when it doesn’t make sense to communicate with a patient.
  • Empowered patients can either be providers’ greatest advocates or greatest detractors.