How connected healthcare devices are empowering patients
In this article, Loick Menvielle, EDHEC Professor and Director of the Management in Innovative Health Chair, and his co-authors, analyse the way connected healthcare devices (the "Internet of Things") change the dynamic between patients and doctor while raising ethical questions.
Smartwatches, voice assistants: connected objects are increasingly transforming our daily lives. In the medical field, these devices symbolise the many transformations brought about by the digitalisation of healthcare (1), particularly in the management of chronic diseases such as type 1 diabetes (T1D).
However, the collection and transmission of health data via these devices raises ethical issues, changing the dynamic between patients and doctors (2).
Are we experiencing a new revolution in the way healthcare professionals monitor and treat their patients? Are we at the beginning of a new era of personalised, high-performance healthcare?
Connected health devices are changing patients' lives
Our study of insulin-dependent diabetics (3) reveals that the use of connected blood glucose sensors increases their sense of self-efficacy by 70%, a revolutionary advance. What's more, 85% of participants said that these devices gave them greater control over their state of health.
In terms of acquiring medical knowledge, 80% of participants report a better understanding of their condition and the treatment options available thanks to these sensors. In addition, 75% of patients say they are more involved in the decision-making process with their healthcare professionals.
These findings highlight the potential of connected blood glucose sensors to change the medical landscape, as well as the relationship and empowerment of patients in the day-to-day management of their health.
In terms of self-efficacy, patients feel a new autonomy in the management of their disease. This innovative approach is revolutionising people's perception of their ability to manage their own health. Patients' increased control over their own health represents a significant development. By making them active players in their own healthcare pathways, we are paving the way for a potential 20% improvement in the effectiveness of treatments.
This advance could transform the delivery of patient care by favouring personalised approaches tailored to each individual. What's more, these digital health solutions, which improve and support patients' quality of life, can be used to optimise their well-being.
Towards collaborative medicine?
This dynamic could transform the healthcare sector by encouraging a collaborative approach between healthcare professionals and patients. By equipping themselves with knowledge, patients take charge of their health and play a more informed role in their treatment and compliance. This is a crucial issue when you consider that almost one in two patients suffering from a chronic illness does not comply with the treatment prescribed. Every year, this non-adherence generates considerable additional healthcare costs, to the tune of €9.3 billion a year!
Connected health devices (4) therefore play an essential role in helping patients to take control of their illness, and also in helping them to follow the treatments recommended by the medical profession.
However, it is important to note that the people close to patients, their friends and other patients, also play a decisive role in their commitment to the disease. Collectively, these people form a support network that helps to improve the patient's experience. They help patients to come to terms with their illness on a daily basis and have a positive impact on their empowerment.
Challenges to overcome
However, this digital transformation of healthcare means overcoming a number of challenges. Some patients report discomfort when using these devices during physical activities. Around 15% report a negative impact on their self-esteem.
Ethical issues relating to health data (5), as well as the risk of exclusion of patients who have little understanding of the uses of digital health solutions, are also real obstacles to their adoption. In France, nearly 64% of people do not feel well informed on the subject of connected health (6).
Doctors, who are traditionally in a position of authority, need to become facilitators in the use of solutions with patients. They must consider that patients are no longer in a position to passively follow their doctor's instructions, but to actively participate in medical decisions, making this medicine a participative and co-constructed component.
Our study provides a better understanding of the positive impact of digital health devices on the empowerment of patients with chronic conditions. In addition, it shows that in order to foster greater levels of patient adoption and engagement, doctors, health authorities and developers of connected devices need to work closely together to overcome the barriers associated with the use of these devices, such as the capture of personal medical data.
This research is being carried out in collaboration with EDHEC Management in Innovative Health Chair - directed by Loick Menvielle, EDHEC Professor, research teams at UQAM (under the direction of Anne-Françoise Audrain-Pontevia) and Nice University Hospital, in particular with Prof. Nicolas Chevalier, Head of the Endocrinology and Diabetology Department.
(1) The Digitization of Healthcare. New Challenges and Opportunities, edited by Loick Menvielle, Anne-Françoise Audrain-Pontevia, William Menvielle - Palgrave Macmillan London (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95173-4
(2) This is why, on this key issue, EDHEC Business School and Bristol Myers Squibb have created a research chair to focus on digital innovation in healthcare.
(3) Empowering health care consumers in the era of Internet of Things (2023). Julien François, Anne-Françoise Audrain-Pontevia, Loick Menvielle, Nicolas Chevalier. International Journal of Consumer Studies. Volume 47, Issue 3. May 2023. Pages 1060-1075. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcs.12887
(4) Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) - Référentiel de bonnes pratiques sur les applications et les objets connectés en Santé, sept. 2016
(5) Plateformes de données de santé: enjeux éthiques. Avis commun 143 CCNE, 5 CNPEN. Mars 2023.
(6) Results of the 1st Barometer on connected health - Ipsos, EDHEC, Bristol Myers Squibb. January 2023. 3 questions to Loick Menvielle on the new Barometer dedicated to connected health - EDHEC Vox, January 2023.