The Internet of Health Things and Why it Matters to Physicians and Patients

If you are a healthcare professional, you need to know about the Internet of Health Things (IoHT). IoHT is the secret sauce, if you will, that holds the potential of increasing access to health care for patients, improving patient experience, the quality of health care and the efficiency with which it is delivered. IoHT can connect patients to their care virtually, breaking down barriers and reducing costs. IoHT matters to healthcare because it can achieve sustainable cost savings for health care organizations.

What exactly is the Internet of Health Things? IoHT transmits raw data among objects that have network connectivity. It integrates the physical and digital worlds. In other words, when medical equipment and devices, advanced laboratory testing equipment and administrative platforms can communicate and share data with one another, you have the Internet of Health Things.

Accenture recently released its report on IoHT. The research shows that healthcare executives are all too aware of the changes IoHT is bringing to their industry. Yet, they also acknowledge that their leaders do not yet fully understand IoHT’s potential. Traditional hospital and healthcare system operations make it challenging to rapidly adopt new technologies. Despite that, some states, like Michigan, are adopting pieces of IoHT, specifically telemedicine, because of its enormous promise and immediate benefits to population health.

Telemedicine is an integral part of IoHT. When actionable information is delivered to a provider’s doorstep, telemedicine can provide the gateway to treatment. We know that telemedicine for patients and caregivers improves health, improves outcomes and extends the continuum of care outside of the doctor’s office. However, the adoption of telemedicine across the U.S. is fractured at best and the Accenture report findings highlight that:

  1. The majority (73%) of healthcare executives agree that IoHT is poised to create disruptive change within three years, however, less than half (49%) think their organization’s leadership understands what IoHT could mean to their organization.
  2. By not realizing the potential of IoHT, healthcare leaders are risking loss of benefits other organizations have realized through use of IoHT, for example, driving improved customer attraction/retention, and medical and administrative cost savings through:
    1. Remote patient monitoring: The vast majority of providers (88%) and payers (81%) who have applied IoHT services reported at least moderate improvement in consumer attraction/retention.
    2. Wellness and prevention programs: Nearly half of providers (42%) and payers (45%) who have applied IoHT services reported achieving extensive medical cost savings from their wellness and prevention IoHT programs.
    3. Operations: Approximately one-third of payers (33%) and providers (31%) who have applied IoHT services reported realizing extensive administrative cost savings from their operations IoHT programs.

Patient satisfaction is a key driver of revenue and retention for physician practices, hospitals, and health systems. Hospitals with better patient experience and satisfaction scores have higher associated revenues. The report shows providers and payers alike are slowly shifting to a “consumer-first” mentality.

  • Both identify patient/member satisfaction as an important business driver in offering RPM IoHT solutions.
  • 82% say patient survey satisfaction scores are important or extremely important.

When asked about the benefits that might drive their business to adopt an IoHT solution, 82% say a better patient experience is important or extremely important.

That brings us back to the puzzling conclusion. If providers know they achieve cost savings with IoHT and they know that it will increase patient satisfaction, where is the delay in adopting the technology? Healthcare providers are going to continue to get squeezed on costs and reimbursements. Elderly patients are increasing in number while healthcare staff reduces as they retire. We need to be able to do more work smarter. Technology is the answer.

We’re going to continue to drill down into the Accenture report and its findings and bring them to you. We all need to get on board with various types of effective technology if we are going to change healthcare and improve it – not only for providers – but for the very survival of hospitals.