Will the Internet of Things Transform Healthcare?

Nicolas P. Terry · 19 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 2

Abstract

Emerging technologies, like health apps on mobile computing platforms and wearable devices, are believed to have the potential to improve individual and population health. Increasingly, however, attention should extend to a far larger cohort of connected devices known as the Internet of Things (IoT), an environment in which devices communicate with each other, health apps, and wearables. The resulting Internet of Health Things promises to do things conventional health providers either cannot do or do them faster and cheaper. First, services are “always on,” providing twenty-four/seven monitoring of the patient or pre-patient. Second, the multiple sensors contained in smartphones or second-generation wearables like the Apple Watch are professional grade. Third, our smartphones and wearables are highly context aware, with knowledge of place, environmental factors, and, increasingly, other people and things around us. Fourth, they are smart and capable of learning, often leveraging sophisticated, cloudbased analytics. However, the Internet of Health Things (IoHT) is, at least in comparison to conventional healthcare, unregulated or, at best, under regulated. This Article identifies and analyzes three areas of concern: (1) effectiveness and quality, (2) data protection (including pre-patient expectations), and (3) device safety and quality. The Article concludes by examining ways in which the IoHT can improve both traditional healthcare and create new, disruptive approaches to technologically mediated care.