Many believe that the “Internet or Things” or IoT is just on the cusp of exploding in our homes – garage-door openers that open when your car is nearby, refrigerators that use the Internet to place an order when the milk gets low, heating systems that turn on from our smartphone, etc.
But what about healthcare & the Internet of Things? Will we soon be seeing “smart” beds that react to patients needs and free up nurses to take care of more urgent needs? Will your runaway glucose level be reported to your doctor’s smartphone via a secure messaging alert? Or maybe it’s something else we haven’t even imagined yet? Predicting the health care technology future, even 3-5 years down the road, is a difficult task.
Dr. Carl Sagan, once said, “Prognosticating about the future is lost art.”
Perhaps 150 years ago you might have been able to somewhat accurately predict what things would be like 25 years out. For example, when railroads first became operational, it might have been somewhat easy to see that towns would pop-up along the stops. But the art of long-term predictions (beyond a decade) have grown more inaccurate with time. In the 1950’s, “futurists” believed that there would soon be a helicopter in every driveway. And in the 1960s, sociologists “predicted” that as a result of industrialization, no one would have to work more than 20-25 hours a week to make ends meet. As a matter of fact, from their vantage point they saw the big problem as: “What will we all do with all the extra time we’ll soon have since we wouldn’t need to work so much anymore.” We all know that never happened!
Today, Internet-connected devices have been introduced in Health Care settings and to patients in various ways: data comes from fetal monitors, electrocardiograms, and health tracking information.
Soon, many believe, that smarter devices will begin to lessen the need for direct patient-physician interaction.
Got a cold? The doctor could tell from the data he receives over your smartphone. Blood pressure high? Your doctor may know it before you sense anything and increase your prescription at the pharmacy. But, long term (say, by 2030) will it reduce by 50% the amount of patient visits to the doctor’s office? If history has taught us anything… it is impossible to say with any degree of accuracy.
All we really know is “The future won’t be anything like the past.”