Emerging Technology In The Internet Of Healthcare Things (IoHT)

Bo Dagnall

The breadth of sensor-based and mobile-enabled technologies in healthcare is expanding. Emerging technologies such as wearable devices, location and behavior monitors, clinical attachments to mobile phones, implanted devices, ingestible nanotechnology, “smart” equipment, miniaturized imaging modalities, and more are beginning to provide clinically relevant data points and insights outside of traditional healthcare settings.

The integration of sensor-based data collected via Internet of Things (IoT) devices and mobile technologies is referred to as the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT). This data can be combined with existing electronic health record (EHR) systems1, to create Real-Time Health Systems (RTHS)2.

There is a wide array of emerging technologies and capabilities that enable RTHS:

Equipment3,4 Biosensors5 Nanochips5 Imaging5 Mobile Phone5

Various “smart” equipment including:

  • Smart beds
  • Medication dispensers and compliance monitors
  • RFID for real-time location tracking
  • Telehealth
  • Bedside monitors
Wearables and embedded sensors capturing:

  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rhythm
  • Respiratory rate
  • Saturated O2
  • Heart rate variability
  • Cardiac output
  • Temperature
  • Eye pressure
  • Glucose levels
  • Brain waves
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Muscle movements
  • Sleep metrics
Ingestible or implantable sensors capturing:

  • Tumor detection
  • Tumor DNA appearance
  • Immune activation
  • Genomic signals indicative of heart attack, stroke or cancer
  • Type 1 diabetes detection
  • Antibody signals
  • Drug tailoring
  • Inflammation detection and location
Miniaturization of imaging modalities including:

  • X-ray
  • CT
  • Nuclear/PET
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI

Attachments that convert a smart phone into a:

  • Biometric sensor
  • Listening device
  • Imaging device
  • Mobile lab
  • Stethoscope
  • Ophthalmoscope
  • Otoscope
  • Endoscope
  • ECG machine

Sample List of Emerging Technologies and Capabilities (source: Hewlett Packard Enterprise)

In a clinical setting, the use cases for RTHS and IoHT technologies mostly fall into three categories:

1. Tracking medical, non-human assets and resources

The ability to track non-human assets relies on technology that includes location awareness, proximity inferencing, movement detection, and environmental sensor capabilities. Broad use cases for tracking non-human assets can include:

  • Locating an asset in a care facility (e.g. “Where is the nearest EKG machine?”)
  • Asset/resource management and scheduling
  • Preventative asset maintenance
  • Theft detection
  • Environmental monitoring (e.g. temperature, pressure, humidity, etc., for lab samples.)
  • Optimized supply utilization
  • Supply chain management, and more.

2. Tracking people: medical staff and patients

Tracking people can provide operational intelligence far beyond what is available today and can include the following use cases:

  • Patient movement tracking and way-finding
  • Clinical staff workflow analysis and optimization
  • Guideline and safety compliance such as hand-washing determination
  • Patient elopement
  • Behavior and movement monitoring (including fall detection)
  • Exposure to infectious or harmful agents, to name a few.

3. Collecting and integrating clinical data

Collecting and integrating clinical data incorporates many technologies and capabilities. The broad use cases in this category are numerous, but are likely to include some combination of the following:

  • Patient monitoring (either remote or in a care facility)
  • Mobile lab tests
  • Mobile imaging
  • Mobile physical examination
  • Compliance monitoring
  • Biosurveillance
  • Infection identification and control, and disease detection.

These types of use cases may be used to preemptively identify or predict medical events and provide timely medical interventions, to provide in-hospital clinical data collection and analysis, and to provide post-discharge patient health monitoring and compliance assessments.

The use cases described here only scratch the surface. IoHT and RTHS are enablers with the potential to unlock many more use cases and benefits for healthcare.

Learn more about leveraging the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT)

For an in-depth look at how digital technology is changing the face of healthcare, download the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

For more details 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. http://dashboard.healthit.gov/quickstats/quickstats.php, accessed September 2015.

2. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).

3. http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/feature/Can-we-expect-the-Internet-of-Things-in-healthcare, accessed Oct 2015.

4. https://cache.freescale.com/files/corporate/doc/white_paper/IOTREVHEALCARWP.pdf, accessed Oct 2015.

5. Eric Topol, “The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands. Basic Books,” 2015.




Bo Dagnall

About Bo Dagnall

Bo Dagnall is the account chief technologist for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) focused on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) within the Military Health and Veterans Affairs (MHVA) account. In this role, Bo oversees and delivers technology strategy for HPE’s VA opportunities. At any point in time, HPE has 15-20 active projects with the VA almost exclusively around applications support and modernization.