Imagine having a stroke while on vacation — not while you are out sightseeing, but in a hospital, because technology helped to get you there before the stroke even occurred. Would being in a hospital under the supervision of care providers increase your chances of survival? I believe so, because the amount of time from the onset of a stroke to the administration of thrombolytics is critical1, and faster treatment may limit the extent of brain injury and improve the outcome after a stroke.2
So how can technology help make this a reality? Consider the hypothetical scenario shown below. Sue is a 55-year old ex-smoker with high blood pressure and a family history of cerebrovascular problems.
A Stroke With and Without IoHT Technologies (Source: Hewlett Packard Enterprise)
Technology makes a difference in healthcare
Without the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile technologies, there is nothing in place to determine a baseline dataset for Sue when she awakes. Technology is not in place to detect her potential TIA (an indicator and potential predictor of stroke), notify her GP, identify her location, or collect biometrics while under supervision. The time lost as a result is detrimental to Sue’s chances of full recovery from a stroke.
On the other hand, Sue’s condition is vastly improved when technology is involved. Sue’s wearable devices establish her morning biometrics baseline, her smartwatch detects her slurred speech and notifies her GP of potential TIA or stroke indicators, and her GPS-enabled devices allow emergency services to quickly locate and transfer her to the nearest care facility. Once she is admitted, in-hospital sensors collect her biometrics and care providers are immediately notified when she actually has the stroke. All of these things matter because research shows that intravenous administration of thrombolytics is effective only if administered within three hours from the onset of symptoms1.
Real-time health systems (RTHS)
The intelligent convergence and integration of sensor-based data collected via IoT devices and mobile technologies is collectively referred to as the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT).
This data can be combined with existing electronic health record (EHR) systems3, to create something called a Real-Time Health System (RTHS)4.
One of the things a modern EHR does not necessarily address is patient-based situational awareness. A modern EHR collects and uses clinical data about a patient’s health and the care provided to that patient in a care facility. An episode of care typically starts by documenting the chief complaint and any additional relevant historical information previously captured or provided by the patient; often missing critical information about what else happened when the medical event took place. This is where the RTHS comes in.
What does an RTHS do?
An RTHS collects IoHT data, analyzes it to identify clinically relevant indicators and trends, integrates findings and alerts into EHR systems, and leverages native capabilities of mobile devices to provide an immediate feedback loop to both providers and patients.
The business benefit is better situational awareness of the patient’s health condition during a medical event occurring in the gaps between EHR-recorded episodes of care. To do this, the RTHS is not inventing something new, but instead leveraging and converging emerging technologies that currently are not effectively connected, including IoT and sensor-based technologies, mobile devices, Big Data analytics, and EHR systems.
Learn more about emerging technology in the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT).
For an in-depth look at how digital technology is changing the healthcare industry, download the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.
For more on the Internet of Things and other factors driving digital disruption in healthcare and other sectors, download the SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Transforming Our World.
To learn more about business innovation in the digital era, download the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.
1. Madden K, “Optimal timing of thrombolytic therapy in acute aschaemic stroke”, CNS Drugs. 2002;16(4):213-8
2. Adams, H et al., “Guidelines for Thrombolytic Therapy for Acute Stroke: A Supplement to the Guidelines for the Management of Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke. A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From a Special Writing Group of the Stroke Council, American Heart Association”, Stroke. 1994;25:1901-1914
3. http://dashboard.healthit.gov/quickstats/quickstats.php, accessed September 2015
4. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)