Will the Internet of Things Disrupt Healthcare?

27 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2016 Last revised: 2 Mar 2017

See all articles by Nicolas Terry

Nicolas Terry

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Date Written: April 7, 2016


This essay considers the potential for the Internet of Health Things (IoHT). Initial interest on emerging technologies that could benefit individual and population health has focused on health applications installed on mobile computing platforms and wearable devices. Increasingly, however, attention should extend to a far larger cohort of networked connected devices known as the Internet of Things (IoT), an environment where devices communicate with each other and, potentially, mobile health apps and wearables. The resulting Internet of Health Things promises to do things no conventional health providers have been able to do (or do it faster and cheaper). First, they are always on, providing 24x7 monitoring of the patient or pre-patient. Second, the multiple sensors contained in smartphones or second generation wearables such as the Apple watch are professional-grade. Third, our smartphones and wearables are highly context-aware, with knowledge of place, temperature, surrounding and, increasingly, of other people and things around us. Fourth, they are smart and capable of learning, often leveraging sophisticated, cloud-based analytics. However, the Internet of Health Things is, at least in comparison to conventional healthcare, unregulated or, at best, under-regulated. Three areas of concern are identified and analyzed (1) effectiveness and quality (2) data protection (including pre-patient expectations) and (3) device safety and quality. The essay concludes on a positive note, examining ways in which the IoHT can improve both traditional healthcare and create new, disruptive approaches to technologically-mediated care.

Keywords: health law, health policy, mobile health, mobile apps, Internet of Things, privacy, security, device regulation

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Terry, Nicolas P., Will the Internet of Things Disrupt Healthcare? (April 7, 2016). Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, Vol. XIX, No. 2, 2016, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Research Paper No. 2016-21, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2760447 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2760447

Nicolas P. Terry (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 W. New York St
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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