The Leading Edge of Disruptive Innovations in Health Care Data, Communications, and Information Technologies: Internet of Medical Things

Published on February 25, 2019


This issue brief explores the topic of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the basis for its current surge in applications across the health care sector. Here, we explore IoT, specifically for medical applications, from a historical perspective, terms and definitions, the major science and technology components, and, relevant to the Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP). The technical advances of data exchange among machines and human-machine interfaces has opened a wide field of innovation for integrating data from sensors, medical devices, smart phones and other platforms for data capture. The features of multi-functionality, low cost, mobile, and widely adaptable sensing and emitting characteristics of IoT devices has created opportunities for efficient and rapid collection and exchange of data. The intention behind this document is to provide a general view on the fundamentals of IoT functionality, its current and future applications, and an overview of the dominant issues about it that government organizations are engaged in. Of particular interest, the importance of cybersecurity provisions and privacy protections pertaining to IoT applied to personal and institutional data are paramount. As a result of the basic understanding presented here, coupled with unique perspectives and experiences of each of the individuals in the audience, we encourage thoughtful exploration of the role of government in shaping the future of role of IoT in health care by the GDHP community.


Greg Downing

Gregory Downing, D.O., Ph.D. is the Founder of Innovation Horizons, LLC, a consulting practice with an emphasis on innovation and technology adaptation in health care.

Previously, he was the Founding Executive Director for Innovation in the Immediate Office of the Secretary at the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this position, his primary responsibilities were focused on the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship as valued attributes of workforce engagement across HHS.

Prior to his arrival at HHS in 2006, Dr. Downing served at the National Institutes of Health since 1993 in research, policy, and program management roles. Dr. Downing earned his medical degree from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Kansas.

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