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by John Gresham
Published on September 7, 2017

This blog post originally appeared in CIO Applications. You can view the original post here.

Internet of Things (IoT) has been a popular phrase in health care for the past few years, but now, we're seeing a shift in the conversation. No longer are we answering the question - what is IoT? Today, the primary issue is understanding how we can take the plethora of big data available from connected systems and tailor it to provide person-centric care.

Until now, the industry has focused on enabling point-to-point connections for individual devices to automatically send valuable data to a person's electronic health record. These devices include infusion pumps, blood glucose sensors and wearable consumer devices. The next level of innovation will require cognitive computing to combine data from multiple source systems and draw new insights and correlations that you wouldn't otherwise see. It's this artificial intelligence (AI) that will enable complex algorithms, predictive capabilities and analytics to deliver clinically relevant, high-quality data in real time.

Take wearable sensors that track your physical activity and heart rate. Right now, you can share health and fitness information collected from the device with your physician. But with AI, these devices could be coupled with other systems to identify individual behaviors that are outside the norm that could indicate serious health problems. For example, your heart rate increases without any physical activity being correlated. AI can take that information, along with your medical history, analyze the data as it's collected to determine if there is a potential problem and alert your doctor.

IoT and AI are shifting consumer expectations of technology

As consumers, we've come to expect this level of engagement as technology pushes the boundaries of cloud-based computing. These expectations are driving the market toward an open business concept. As an industry, we need to harness the potential of IoT to drive better efficiencies. For physicians, that means optimizing how they receive the right information at the right time. For patients, it's how to optimize a seamless journey though the health care system. Consider the advantages of connected medical devices from a data collection perspective. When the disparate health care systems within a single organization are linked, critical patient information becomes more accessible to clinicians and care teams across the organization.

Connected medical devices should also drive more intentional delivery of critical information to the caregiver. For instance, alarm fatigue for the caregiver can be decreased by intelligently routing critical alerts to account for the caregiver's schedule, contact preference and even the location of the nearest care team member. Automating critical alarm delivery creates a streamlined approach that helps ensure clinicians are responding to the right alarms at the right time.

Location-based technology and enterprise mobility management

The convergence of mobile technology and IoT is powerful. Location-based technology will drive outcomes inside the acute care setting, as well as the consumer experience as populations become more engaged with navigating the health care ecosystem.

As location-based technologies become more widely adopted, the care process can be better orchestrated around the patient. Connected systems make sure the right information is provided to the patient's care team, while location-based technology can direct a patient through the care process based on their location. The result is a more convenient and engaging experience for the consumer, while important aspects like throughput and staff scheduling are optimized for the health care organization. Over the next decade, the advancement of location awareness systems will transform how patients and providers experience the delivery of health care.

IoT and security

There's no doubt that bringing multiple connected devices together will challenge the infrastructure of health care, and security will be one of the most pressing concerns. As the number of connection things grows every year, and is expected to reach 20.4 billion by 2020, organizations will need to evaluate whether their network is sufficiently secure to support multiple devices, their bandwidth and storage capabilities.

Additionally, we will need a higher level of trust for the devices we connect to, which can be improved by driving standards around IoT and connected systems. The ability to choreograph multiple complex systems through IoT and AI will be critical to drive the next generation experiences that are contextually aware of the patient, care team and the provider.

Sharing data is foundational to Cerner's patient-centric interoperability. We're focused on strengthening patient experiences and clinical workflows. Learn more about how our innovative, open platforms can strengthen scope and services across the continuum.

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