Harnessing the power of connectivity

It cannot be a one connected product strategy; it must be an all connected information process and flow
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Monday, October 28, 2019

We live in a connected world. This morning alone, my wife used Siri to check the weather, so we knew how to dress for school and work, and my 5-year-old daughter asked Google to play her favorite songs as we ate breakfast. When my girls are waiting for the bus in the morning, my wife religiously watches the bus GPS app to know where it is and how much time we have. With more and more information available and with many devices now IoT compatible, I always come back to the same question: Is this making my life easier, or more complex? More importantly, who has access to this information; what are they doing with it; and what is their responsibility when confronted with it?

In a recent article from CNN, Amazon admitted that it maintains a team of thousands of employees whose role is to listen to Alexa voice commands. While they say most are mundane, they admitted they sometimes record crimes. In one case, the information recorded might prove the innocence or guilt of a man accused of murder in Arkansas. Amazon has taken a stance that privacy and private information should stay just that. But, at what point as a society, as a company or as a person should you be compelled to act on information that could help or save someone’s life?

While Invacare may not be in the IoT industry, I see similar challenges with the healthcare market regarding connected devices. They are the great buzzword of our time and everyone is scrambling to connect everything to something else. It’s exciting to discuss the work you’re doing with connected devices and the potential impact it will have on people’s lives. I always see, hear and feel the same concern from providers and caregivers, though. If they have all this information, what is their responsibility; how will they use it; and how can they best implement it into their care plans? Our goal is the same: care for our patients and residents. But as more information becomes available to us, we need to be prepared to handle it and use it in a beneficial way. It cannot be a one connected product strategy; it must be an all connected information process and flow.

You may be reading this and assuming I’m a guy who doesn’t like connected devices. It’s just the opposite, though. I believe they will be a game changer for the homecare industry. I also believe providers and caregivers need to put the time, thought and effort into implementation, determining the company’s philosophy on information collection and sharing, and how they will use this technology.

In my opinion, the connected device path is inevitable and much needed; however, it has to be part of an open discussion on how it can be the most impactful and provide the greatest benefit to the patient and the business. It should also be part of a larger “virtual support” strategy that is focused on fleet management, patient wellbeing and information use for a broader care purpose.

We have an incredible opportunity in this connected world. We need to think creatively, talk openly and work together to implement life-changing strategies to harness the power of connectivity.

Jonathan Houston is the director of post-acute sales for Invacare.