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Ask the Futurist: “How Will the Internet of Everything Help Us Manage Our Own Health?”

August 19, 2013 - 2 Comments

In our last “Ask the Futurist” blog post, I discussed how the Internet of Everything (IoE) is working to connect doctors with their patients through electronic medical records. The subject of IoE’s role in the health care industry is a topic I am asked about often. After all, the Internet of Everything has the potential to change almost every aspect of how we live. And perhaps, how long we live.

Today’s question comes from Teren Bryson, director of IT at Zetec. Teren is a cancer survivor, and still in his 30s. He is interested in how technology is impacting health — specifically user-enabled health monitoring through portable biometric devices. Here’s his two-part question:

Question: “How will the Internet of Everything help us manage our own health? For example, when will a wearable device be able to monitor my blood glucose levels or other biometrics in a real-time way?

Answer: That’s a great question. The Internet of Everything is going to help us manage our own health in a couple of different ways.

From a wearable technology perspective, IoE will allow us to get information about our bodies in ways we can’t get them today. It will give us more insight into our own health and vital signs.

We already see several wearable fitness devices in today’s market — including Nike’s FuelBand, Fitbit’s Flex, Jawbone UP, and others — that provide analytics for your eating, sleeping, and movement behavior. In addition, advances in biometric devices are beginning to track blood glucose levels. For example, Alere’s DayLinkMonitor records a participant’s weight or blood glucose values and then reports the actionable data to Alere clinicians. So, in answer to your question, this type of technology is available today.

And there are even more exciting developments right around the corner. The Scanadu Scout, coming out next year, is practically an emergency room in your pocket — enabling you to measure everything from temperature and heart function, to hemoglobin saturation, to stress. Similar to Dr. McCoy’s “tricorder” on the original Star Trek series, it’s a great example of science fiction becoming fact. Also coming in the next few years will be electronic tattoos, with tiny embedded sensors that will pick up temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and even fetal vital signs, directly from your skin. And unlike today’s personal biometric devices, you won’t have to remember to put them on every day — just wear them and forget about it.

It’s also important to discuss how the Internet of Everything is going to virtualize health care resources. As more physicians retire and the population grows, IoE will allow us to receive health care at home and in other places where we don’t receive health care today. This extends beyond wearable technology. Connected pills, connected pill bottles, and connected labs on chips will virtualize health care and scale existing health care resources, creating more opportunities for insightful data.

Will the Internet of Everything help us live longer? It just might.

Do you have a question for @DavetheFuturist? Join the conversation #IoE #AsktheFuturist.

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  1. My last visit to the doctor’s office was very efficient. All records were electronic including the last lab test and previous evaluations. Everyone from the doctor, to the nurse to the administrator were on computers taking down all necessary information digitally. I was out of the office in record time. Except for the fact that no one really want to talk to me and the problems I came in with (my weight, my neuroapathy and my sleep apneia) were still the same when I left. Efficient process but no different results. Is that progress?

    • Dear Jim,
      I fully agree that diagnosis is one thing and remedy another one. Personally i believe what went wrong is that others took control of our body, mainly because of not knowing. This knowledge will give back more control to the owner of the body and make them smarter. I think that in the end that will save a lot of lives, because in the end the doctor is also a human being, not taking any responsibility for what he is doing to you. The fact that the data is constantly monitored makes any deviation of the mean know to you, which is progress. Just my humble opionion on past experiences. Bruno Verstraete