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After Big Data-Keep Healthcare Ahead with Internet of Things
August 17, 2015

After Big Data-Keep Healthcare Ahead with Internet of Things

Howard Chen is a radiology chief resident at University of Pennsylvania in the Healthcare Quality and Leadership pathway. Howard graduated from Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School and was the recipient of the 2014 Imaging Informatics Open-Source Leadership Award from the Society of Imaging Informatics in Medicine. His peer-reviewed papers investigate the role of data science in patient care, radiology education, and computational genomics. Howard writes about creating value for patient care through informatics and innovation. He tweets under @howardpchen.

A few years ago I needed hand surgery. Shortly after checking in to the outpatient surgery department, the helpful nurse attached EKG leads onto my arms and chest, and a pulse oximeter to my finger. The monitor next to my bed flickered and came to life. Then, colorful telemetric and oximetric tracings in a nursing station computer reflected an exact copy. A record in the hospital intranet recorded my wellbeing overtime. Wireless connectivity allowed an extra pair of eyes to watched me and to ensure wsaberrant flickers do not go unnoticed. 


In a way, healthcare has spearheaded the forefront of the universal connectivity—some warning signs simply can't wait for someone to come and check every 6 hours. Telemetry monitors, pulse oximetry, bed alarms are just some examples of how interconnected "things" make for a timely alert system detecting the smallest deviation from normal. 


One purpose of this near-time update is obvious—early detection leads to early intervention and improved outcome. 


Today, advancements in technology promises to bring the same level of attention to daily life. The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the increasing prevalence of internet connectivity for everyday objects. First computers, then cell phones, watches, and eventually your insulin pump, your implantable cardioverter/defibrillator, your contact lenses. Universal internet connectivity of medical devices through 4G LTE or satellite allows constant monitoring and triggers emergency alerts should it detect critical values in blood glucose level or heart rhythm.  


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