Sam is in the hospital recovering from surgery. On his wrist is a high-tech remote wristband that can monitor his blood pressure, pulse oximetry, respiration, and temperature, and also send an immediate alert to his nurse if a problem arises. Suddenly, his nurse’s smartphone app beeps, advising her that Sam’s temperature just spiked to 101 degrees Fahrenheit, a sign that something might be wrong.
Meanwhile Debra, an at-home patient, receives a cell phone message that it’s time to breathe into her respiratory training device (spirometer). The care coordinator at her doctor’s office views the dashboard of data on Debra’s results and is alerted if the result falls outside the safe parameter, instructing her on treatment.
And Linda, an elderly patient with mild dementia, has just woken up, and her alarm device reminds her to take her morning medicine. A sensor in her pill dispenser confirms this and the alarm says: “We’ll make sure your daughter knows you took your medicine this morning. By the way, have you had breakfast?”
What is Intelligent Care? The emergence of leading-edge, patient-centered technologies and the innovative integration of those technologies are at the center of intelligent care. “To me, intelligent care means going beyond simple rule-based solutions (like crosschecking for allergies, or alerting patients when their medications are due), to actively integrating traditionally disconnected sources of data to take care of a patient,” says Naresh Ramarajan, MD, founder and chief medical officer of Navya, an organization that helps patients make cancer-treatment decisions using a step-by-step intelligent care system.
For example, smart-decision systems should be able to take into account a patient’s preferences for a therapy with fewer side effects, as well as the best outcomes and potential costs. They should be able to integrate the best clinical-trial results and the most current international guidelines. “An intelligent care system might even search a database to find similar patients for whom treatments have been successful,” says Ramarajan. “It would then synthesize all of these to come up with a ranked list of options with reasons behind each option.”
That data can then help patients make smart, informed choices. “As mobile app developers, we are often getting more requests from doctors and hospitals that include the need for ways to make their patient care more intelligent and innovative,” says Dulio Denis, a mobile program manager at Blue Label Labs, an industry leader in mobile, tablet, watch, and TV app design.
App developers work with healthcare clients who recognize that the alignment of consumer technology in mobile phones and the advance of new applications in what a hospital can do with cloud computing have reached a crossroads, where the providers can be more patient-centered. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we get to a place where medical care is functioning as seamlessly as the communication systems in social media function,” says Denis.
The Internet of Medical Things?
Just as the Internet of Things is now combining technology with life (turning on your thermostat, alerting you when the milk is gone), the Internet of Medical Things can do the same for healthcare. After all, women have been diagnosing their own pregnancies for three decades, so patients using our latest technology should certainly be able to swab their throat and send in the sample for a strep test without having to visit a doctor’s office-thus saving both the patient’s and doctor’s time and money. Intelligent care can also bring safer, more efficient patient care by streamlining procedures that produce smarter evidenced-based guidelines and provide improved safety, education, and service.
Roy Smythe, MD, cancer surgeon and founder of Valence Health-a company empowering healthcare providers with complete turnkey solutions for value-based care -says that “the devices we are going to be placing on and in our bodies in the future are going to be much more sophisticated and will be giving us insights that we never thought we would get.”
According to Orbita, a leader in innovative cloud-based technology for connected home healthcare, the intelligent health industry will soon feature ubiquitous wireless connectivity. The widespread use of smart phones and a growing array of connected, sensor-enabled devices that measure and track personal wellness data, test results, and healthcare reminders now enable health scenarios that we never dreamed were possible a few years ago.
Intelli-health optimizes both social computing and data analytics, as well as content and experience management, improving the outcomes for patients globally.
• In-hospital remote wristbands that monitor vital signs and alert staff to changes immediately
• Interactive systems that respond to hospitalized patient requests more quickly using smartphones and apps rather than the old-fashioned “call button”
• Smartbeds that can monitor position and comfort and alert staff to problems Hand-hygiene systems that can improve infection-control practices and alert clinicians to sanitize before entering every room
• Digital delivery of tailored patient-education information
• Apps enabling patients to fill prescriptions from their hospital bed before discharge
• Handheld ultrasound devices that allow patients to scan their own bodies and send results to a radiologist
• Self-tests for medical conditions such as strep throat, STDs, and elevated cholesterol.