It is a great privilege that we have working at Tactio building remote patient monitoring systems for large healthcare payers and providers worldwide. Indeed we get to work daily with healthcare and technology visionaries who see the power of combining mobile and IoT often known as "Connected Health" as a way to disrupt and change the future of healthcare into a patient centered collaborative experience.
From these daily insights we often discuss about the differences and boundaries between digital fitness and digital health. While both use the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to connect the world around us including the new biosensors that can capture our data, there is a fundamental aspect that distinguishes both domains, and that is "care" with all its numerous meanings.
The Patient in the healthcare system is passive today. That patient needs to get sick in order to enter the healthcare system. If the patient is active then often it has to log measurement into paper logbooks that are not easy to share or see trends from.
Providing a biosensor to that patient makes it a Smart Patient, capable to self measure important aspects of its health to become aware of their condition, triggering behaviour changes to manage it better. 40 years ago, one had to get an appointment to the doctor in order to get a blood pressure reading with all the stress and white shirt syndrome that we know distorting the results. Who would imagine that today walking at CVS, Boots or Walgreens and checking out all the BPs and connected BPs they offer!
Just a few years back you could get a BP or a scale from your local pharmacy, but if you wanted a connected one that could hook up to your smartphone you needed to go to the Apple store, at Best Buy or on Amazon. I took a picture a few years back of a connected BP in Florida at Best Buy near West Palm Beach that was in between the WiFi routers :-) Now they've improved the product placement and created nice displays for the connected biosensors. But it is very Digital Fitness focused which it just fine with a huge market demand from a younger and often healthy people looking for activity tracking wearables. Connected Scales, BPs, Glucometers, Pulse Oximeters and other such medical devices are more and more available at local pharmacies where the professional healthcare expertise is available to provide the guidance for such purchases. Buyers of such medical IoT devices are increasingly the 50+ starting to see the effect of chronic diseases or a rising risk factor on their everyday lifestyle. When they purchase a connected medical device they become a Connected Patient now more Engaged into the self management of their health condition thanks to the app that came with the device and its capabilities to render trends and charts so they can visualize their progress.
For all the 40+, 50+ and 60+ that get connected today, the need for more starts from a few caveats. Indeed, often a few connected devices from various manufacturers creates a collection of apps for these patients which does not allow them to get an overall view of their self-care measurements creating multiple silos of health information preventing the dash-boarding of it altogether. Also, as the rising risks materializes and chronic conditions need to be managed, they need this information to link to real care from healthcare professionals. That is where mobile and IoT in healthcare truly make a difference into making such patient an Empowered Patient. Consolidating all the self care measurements from their biosensors into a personal health dashboard with the possibility to engage from the convenience of their smartphone or tablet with a healthcare professional at the hospital, pharmacy or call center that can see their trends, ask contextual questions, set objective and provide guidance, … that truly sets apart the digital fitness and digital health, empowering the patient self-care capabilities into a collaborative care experience.