Internet of Things (IoT), health wearables and health apps can undoubtedly improve the collaboration between physicians, patients and payers. Sensors can continuously measure body traits such as blood sugar, body weight, electrodermal activities of the skin, heart beats, and many others, and transfer them to doctors and patients in real time. This can enable new therapy approaches for illnesses like diabetes, depressions, cardiovascular diseases and many others.

Faster, Better Patient Care

If doctors and patients detect unexpected trends – be it because a therapy does not show the efficacy as intended, or be it that the patient was not able to change behavior towards a healthier lifestyle, they can intervene immediately rather than waiting for the next regular appointment weeks or months later. The opportunity goes beyond increased transparency: Technology can send alerts, and you could also imagine that intelligent algorithms will recommend the right actions to get back on track.

Outcome-Based Payments in Healthcare

Health wearables can also trigger new opportunities to develop outcome-based payment models in healthcare. The collected data not only documents therapy adherence by the patient. It also shows if specific indicators have improved or worsened. In other words, if the key parameters measured by health devices and analyzed by IoT-technology improve as predicted or exceed expectations after the patient has taken the drug in the correct way, payers can be sure they invest in the right therapy. Even in the opposite case, doctors and patients get the ability to adjust therapies more quickly and flexibly than without this technology.

More Opportunities for R&D in Precision Medicine

All this can be taken one step further. If scientists are provided with the aggregated and anonymized data that has been collected by health wearables, they will have a much broader statistical base than before. They can slice and dice the data points in new wys and find new therapies that are tailored for specific patient populations. As a result, the individual preconditions of each single patient can be considered during the choice of a therapy much better than before.

A Push for Life Sciences Companies to Engage More Strongly in Prevention

Connected care can also provide an enhancement for life sciences companies to add value for doctors, payers and patients for prevention. They can just use the whole concept, but encourage starting measuring health indicators at a formally healthy person that is at risk to get a disease. One example of a life sciences company that steered competencies strongly into prevention of diabetes is Roche Diabetes Care with Accu-Chek. They offer a connected care package that measures steps, glucose levels in blood, and weight not only with the objective to manage diabetes better, but also to avoid diabetes through positive behavioral changes such as more exercise and healthier nutrition.

Data Privacy: A Show Stopper?

Data privacy is key to enable the main precondition to make it all work: trust from all players, especially doctors and patients, is needed before they participate and share data. It seems that optimism about the potential advantages are higher than concerns on data security risk. According to a study by The Economist Intelligence Unit in 23 countries, 79% of healthcare executives say that mobile technologies including health wearables provide education and information today already, while 50% believe that mobile health will help patients to proactively participate in their own care. McKinsey found out that more than 75% of patients expect to use digital services in the future.

What do you think about IoT in health sciences, connected care and patient engagement? Please join the discussion in the comment field below and on twitter @SAP_Healthcare!

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