It’s all about the data!
Idris Jahn, Principal Consultant for IoTUK, blogs about data collected from connected devices and why it is key to innovation and advances in the health and care sector.
At the recent Health Plus Care event in London I delivered the keynote address for the ‘Technology First’ stream.
The event attracted over 4,500 visitors with wide ranging interests in the health and care sector. In my role as Principal Consultant for IoTUK, I’m helping co-ordinate two large scale NHS test beds that will use the Internet of Things to help people with diabetes and dementia to better manage their illness.
In my keynote address, ‘How the Internet of Things is revolutionising health and care‘, I stated that, “It’s all about the data”. In this blog, I will expand on why I believe data is the key ingredient to solutions that will help improve the lives of citizens.
Health and data
When most people think of the Internet of Things, they imagine everyday objects embedded with sensors. While sensor enabled devices have been around for decades, less than 1% of the available data from these sensors is actually being used. The true value of IoT will only be realised once we start making greater use of the available data and correlating that across different sources of data.
Sources will range from existing historical data, typically residing in databases, to real-time streaming data from the Internet of Things. In the context of healthcare, this means combining long-term patient records with short-term streaming data from wearable devices.
Over the past 12 months IoTUK has engaged with hundreds of small IoT businesses; many of which are operating in the healthcare sector. From wearables that will measure blood oxygenation, to shoe insoles that monitor how patients walk, quantitative data relating to our bodies is constantly being collected. A single reading from a wearable device may be able to tell the patient their blood oxygen level, but what does that reading mean for the individual? If the readout states 93% SpO2 (oxygen level), is that good or bad? Can the reading be influenced by other factors such as altitude or physical activity just prior to the test?
Traditionally, a doctor’s training, experience and knowledge of the patient would be used to understand what medical device readings mean and if any intervention was required.
In today’s world of connected devices a digital holistic view of the patient is required before sending any intelligent alerts. This requires the collection of multiple data points from patients and an ability to perform analytics over a period of time to understand trends and identify anomalies such as poor device calibration.
Trends from real-time streaming data then need to be combined with the patient’s medical history to personalise any insights. With any ability to alert in real-time, we already have a powerful tool to help patients better engage in the management of their illness.
What if we could do more?
Add to the mix other sources of data; weather forecasts, travel itineraries and social media channels and we then have the potential to predict personalised health threats in the future and provide advance warning either to patients, their carers and/or their clinicians.
Securely pulling together data from multiple sources and then understanding what that data means is the work being undertaken by the two large scale NHS IoT test beds. So to summarise, it’s all about the data!