Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as fitness trackers, skin sensors, cardiac monitors and glucometers have created a thriving industry that not only puts people in control of their vital health metrics, but also enables them to engage with healthcare providers in new ways Most of these physical devices work with mobile software apps that add additional levels of insight. With a couple taps on a smartwatch or phone, you can compare fitness stats, track calories and even monitor the heartbeat of a spouse or loved one hundreds of miles away.

Wellness programs use IoT devices to help people set fitness goals, track progress and share information as part of group challenges. The data can also help employers build better population health programs by holding participants accountable for personal health improvement goals.

IoT devices also enable healthcare providers to monitor and control patient outcomes, while also collecting relevant information for population health management studies. Using an IoT device to monitor health metrics for patients with chronic conditions leads to better treatment plans. For example, a glucose monitor can periodically send blood sugar readings to a doctor or nurse. If a patient approaches a risky level, an automatic alert can trigger a visit from a home health provider. IoT devices can also assist with monitoring and treating cardiovascular, neurological and pulmonary conditions, helping patients avoid chronic health issues such as obesity and heart congestion.

In addition to helping individuals, IoT data can be aggregated to build models for patient monitoring, population health measurement and chronic disease care. For example, if a thousand cardiac monitors show a correlation between certain biometric levels and adverse reactions, then doctors can adjust treatment protocols accordingly. As these protocols are refined, big data analytics will improve outcomes for high-risk patients.

Based on the potential of these rapidly evolving models, the wearable device industry is expected to ship nearly 100 million gadgets a year by 2021, such as smartwatches, ingestible pills and fitness trackers. Similarly, the global “smart healthcare” market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 25 percent from 2016 to 2020.

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Technavio has published a new report on the global smart healthcare market from 2016-2020. (Graphic: Business Wire)

As IoT sensors and devices gather new types of health and wellness data, the BioIQ technology platform remains the central hub for sharing insight, driving participation, monitoring progress and tracking wellness measures. It helps people complete health assessments, sign up for biometric health tests and connect to interventions based on their specific risk factors. Within the context of a wellness or population health program, the BioIQ platform also tracks rewards, outcomes and incentives, using a mobile app to sustain engagement. By connecting people with the care they need, BioIQ also helps health plans close critical care gaps that can improve their HEDIS scores, Star ratings and QRS ratings.

BioIQ will remain at the forefront of these developments as the growing use of IoT data brings new opportunities to wellness providers and health plans.

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