Five Areas IoT Is Changing and Will Continue to Change Your Life: Personal Health

medical interface, human digestive organs, vector illustration

Doctor IoT, paging Doctor IoT

My last blog (way too long) I wrote about how IoT is already impacting us in our kitchen and ways I really hope it will impact us sooner than later. While looking at the kitchen I touched a bit on health items around cooking, which to me and my Fitbit only makes sense as the next area to examine. Let’s look at how our personal health devices are becoming connected and hopefully more intelligent.

Personal Health Trackers

So if you are reading this I’m going to assume that you have a pulse and most likely have some sort of personal health tracker already. If you’re anything like me you might have more than one, hello to my Fitbit and iWatch. Personal health trackers are not really “new.” I remember as a kid my dad carrying an old pedometer that made the little clink sound when he walked. Fast forward 20 years and they’re more accurate, powerful and now more connected. The connectedness has opened a whole new realm of tracking personal health and as the saying goes, “If you can measure it, you can manage it.” Personally, when I’m in “you’re getting too fat” mode I use my Fitbit,  Watch, and iPhone to track my health progress. My Fitbit tracks my steps all day, syncs to my iPhone, and most importantly allows me to complete with my friends. My  Watch syncs to my iHealth to track my steps, actively, and heart rate; which all then syncs to my Virgin Pulse account that provides me with cash for reaching defined activity goals! Lastly, I use MyFitnessPal to track eating habits, caloric intake against my defined goal, syncs all the previous data to offset with my activity and provides me a count of the calories I can consume. The only thing I have left to get is the Fitbit Aria scale to sync with my Fitbit to keep my weight and body fat automatically tracked! Did  you keep up with all of that? As I wrote all of that it seems kind of crazy, but it really has become almost fully automated. I only have to make sure to complete the few manual steps and the biggest part, listen to the numbers, and every time I do I can lose weight fairly consistently. Note, I said consistently, not easily as it still takes a lot of willpower!

To think that is just today being used by a semi-unhealthy 36-year-old man. There are tons of devices coming out every day around even more health monitoring. Philips just released a line of health care devices with FDA approval. Every quarter more and more of these devices are rolling out, which is great…but, they all still seem somewhat isolated from each other, invasive, and well, just dumb.

For devices and apps to make it further they all must speak and share with each other seamlessly. Apple has a half-hearted goal to become the “platform” for the medical data, but it still leaves much to be desired and is too hard. I need a way that everything comes together to create a seamless personal health experience/solution that helps guide me to a healthy lifestyle. I need a virtual health coach (vhc) that can see all of the data and really converse with me about decisions and options. For example, using my connected data my vhc might prompt me at 3:24 p.m., “Jack I see you are having pizza for dinner. To hit your allotted calories for the day you should either run three miles, limit your dinner to two slices of pizza with a side salad, or plan to reduce your calorie allocation by 150 for the next three days. Which option do you prefer?” The assistant should be smart enough to give me options and automatically adjust my health tracking systems based on options/decisions made by me.

Home health screening

As a father with young children, this is an area I’m really hoping someone will tackle sooner than later! I do not understand why I must go into a doctor’s office for the simplest health situations. It’s a hassle and feels like a complete waste of money.  I typically only go because I need a quick confirmation of the diagnoses, and the most important item the prescription so I can get the needed medicine. I know there are companies starting to form around in-office clinics, telemedicine, and the public minute clinics. My company has a clinic and it’s a huge benefit as it only takes 30 minutes out of my day to see a doctor and I just walk there. But it can be problematic in the fact you can’t typically go in immediately, it usually takes 1-2 days. Again, these are great emerging options, but for much of the day-to-day health items most people face, a better home health screening solution could be a huge time and money saver.

With the price of technology continuing to exponentially decline and almost everyone having high-speed networking at home (and now in their pockets), I see the age of home health screening technology ripe for emergence. I could talk about “lab” equipment in your home, but that’s an easy one. I love to imagine a world where the health screening is built into our everyday items. Please note I’m not a doctor and am completely ignorant on microbiology! The first everyday item I could see of use would be your toothbrush. If you’re not an animal (or a child that refuses to) you’re most likely brushing your teeth daily. We already have “connected” toothbrushes hitting the market. I think the next step is to add the ability for samples to be taken by your toothbrush, the data sent to a medical IoT cloud, any potential health issues sent to a technician to review, and information returned to the users’ smart phone with any health concerns/recommendations that are identified in the sample data. This would have been great with young kids that got strep a lot. If the toothbrush could have identified strep bacteria, a technician verified it, and a prescription sent to our pharmacy on record. This can reduce the burden of taking time away from the office and reduce the load on our pediatric doctor’s office.

Another everyday item, while a bit gross, that could make a huge impact is your home toilet. There are a multitude of medical articles coming out about how the ecosystem of microbiology within your gut can be a big predictor of health and has a huge impact on your overall health; everything from weight to mental health. So, I ask why couldn’t you build the technology to analyze your “system” into your home toilet? I know I prefer that to be at home rather than the fun of carrying that cup around the doctor’s office! Just like your toothbrush, the data could be sent to a cloud to analyze your “sample” for any potential health issues and recommend solutions. For parents of teenagers, this might also identify any “substance” experimentation that is going on.

In a connected world, all of this health data would be added together between the different systems to keep a real-time health profile on you. Imagine with this profile all of your other connected systems could be updated accordingly to help guide you to your chosen peak healthy lifestyle. Your fitness trackers updated with your next goal and your calendar is automatically adjusted to make you have time for the needed exercise or mental relaxation, your dietary guide updated to choose the correct foods to support the needed modifications to your health, from that your grocery list updated automatically, Amazon fresh order placed, and the foods you need show right up to your door!

Jack Nichols

Jack Nichols

Jack Nichols has been working within Interactive Intelligence’s cloud divisions since 2010. He saw the power of PureCloud and started working to evangelize the platform in 2014. Recently Jack has started focusing on growing PureCloud through Interactive’s channel partners. Before that he built the CaaS network operations and technology operations group from the ground up. Prior to joining Interactive Jack ran the global voice, data and security teams supporting 30+ locations for BrightPoint Inc. (acquired by Ingram Micro).