Mobile healthcare devices and apps will play a starring role in the Internet of Things, given expectations on emerging monitoring and sensor technologies that will be used to track everything from fitness achievements to surgical rehab.
Consumers and patients will increasingly embrace Internet-connected tools both for personal health use and family health needs, according to a new report published by the Pew Research Center Internet Project. For the report, Pew polled 1,867 experts and stakeholders on the future of the Internet.
"One positive effect of 'ubiquitous computing,' as it used to be called, will be much faster, more convenient, and lower-cost medical diagnostics," notes Patrick Tucker, technology editor for Defense One and author of "The Naked Future: What Happens In a World That Anticipates Your Every Move?" who participated in the study.
"This will be essential if we are to meet the healthcare needs of a rapidly aging baby boomer generation," Tucker adds.
Such mHealth diagnostic capabilities could lead to what some see as the Holy Grail of mHealth: technologies that alert users about looming health issues before it becomes a critical problem.
The U.S. government is helping to spur such innovations given a recently announced grant program aimed at developing effective patient-provider communications and patient self-management capabilities.
The Pew findings also reveal the Internet of Things will produce subcutaneous sensors or chips that provide patients' real-time vital signs to self-trackers and medical providers. Tucker notes that as of last year, there were 13 billion Internet-connected devices, a figure projected to hit 50 billion by 2020.