Every so often I see the threads of technology and Health Care weaving together in a way that opens up new opportunities. Today is one of those days. Tomorrow Apple is widely expected to release their iBeacon technology, a Bluetooth Low Energy platform for connecting sensors to the iOS platform. For a while Tim O’Reilly and others have been talking about the Internet of Things. The original idea was that the Internet of Things would create a mesh network that would instrument the world around us. I see so many parallels with the transformation of the Health Care industry. Let me explain…
The Health Care Industry is spending Billions to build networks that can pass information about patients between doctors, hospitals, payers and other organizations in the industry. The only person excluded from this network is. You guessed it…. The patient. Yet the patient is the one common factor. For a long time I have been saying that WE (the Patient) are the De Facto Health Information Exchange. Finally Blue Button, BlueButton Plus and Direct Project offer thee potential to make this happen.
I believe that the Internet of things is going to be enabled, not by mesh networks that inter-connect these devices. Instead these sensors will become ultra-low power devices that do not require frequent charging. They will be inter-connected by Us, or rather, by our smartphones. Just as needs to happen in Health Care where the patient is the connector, so in the emerging world of the Quantified Self and hardware sensors these low power sensors will be connected in to our Personal Cloud. We will use these sensors to measure our environment and our health.
On September 10th Apple is expected to launch iOS7 and a couple of new iPhones. iOS7 and the Bluetooth low energy communications protocol will enable the personal cloud that can detect and collect data from simple low power sensors.
The big opportunity is for the Personal Cloud to inform and instrument our bodies to help us monitor and manage our health. When the Personal Cloud then connects to the Personal Health Record, or Life Record and this in turn is connected to our network of health care professionals we really will have a powerful Personal Health Information Exchange. We are already seeing this with products from companies like Fitbit and Withings. We, as individuals are already able to collect far more data points about our health than is contained in the Electronic Medical Record at our Doctor’s office. With the emergence of the Personal Cloud this situation will only accelerate.
Given that WE become the integrator and network conduit of this Internet of Things, there is a business model to be built that rewards us for delivering the data from the Internet of Things in our Personal Cloud. Think of it as turning the cable industry model upside down. We become the content provider, organizations and companies want to leverage the data from these disconnected sensors. How long will it be before companies are willing to subsidize our smartphone Internet data packages in return for us feeding sensor data from the sensors on our bodies and around our homes and offices?
The more data we as individuals can compile to help us manage our health, the more leverage we accrue to change the balance of power and allow us to become a true peer in the Health Car eIndustry where we truly are the de facto Health Information Exchange.
Interesting times are upon us….
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