Almost a month into 2013, it’s the time of year for making resolutions and, all too often, breaking them soon after. Most common are plans to lose weight, live healthier, and get fitter than ever before. When it comes down to it, we clearly want to prioritize our health, but it’s often difficult to take time out of our busy schedules.
Yet while we may make excuses for already lacking time to visit the gym, we are spending more time on the internet when it comes to our health. A study by the National Center for Health Statistics found a few years ago that “51 percent of adults aged 18-64 had used the Internet to look up health information during the past 12 months.” With the proliferation of smart devices, this continues to grow. But when it comes to using the internet to make medical appointments, communicate with a doctor, or refill a prescription, the numbers were significantly lower.
This is starting to change in the “internet of things” era, which has the potential to transform the way we approach health and wellness. Connected devices, working via machine-to-machine communication are making remote health management a reality. You may be wondering why M2M-based mHealth is revolutionary. After all, we can see from this year’s CES that even refrigerators and light switches are incorporating M2M technology.
Well, imagine receiving prescriptions via your mobile device; having a checkup via tele-monitoring; or your vital signs sent to your doctor thanks to sensor monitoring. In terms of post-surgical care, mHealth may provide the possibility for patients to leave the hospital sooner and recover from operations in the comfort of their own home.
Reducing the length of a patient’s hospital stay has other advantages beyond increased comfort and convenience. The less time a patient spends in the hospital, the less likely they are to catch an infection. A research paper by the Emerald determined that extending an individual’s hospital stay “by one day increases the probability of infection and can lengthen the duration of a hospital stay.” It’s not hard to see why these intelligent devices are winning the trust of medical service providers and patients.
As my colleague Ray Wizbowski mentioned in a post earlier this week, the challenge and necessity with M2M-based healthcare is to ensure it is secure. Having bank details stolen is particularly stressful to deal with, but having our healthcare compromised would be infinitely worse. As Ray asserts, M2M security for healthcare is improving rapidly, which is good news for patients and the health industry alike. Keep checking in here on the blog over the next few weeks as we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the issues and innovation in the industry today.