Internet of things issues related to psychiatry

Background

Internet of Things (IoT) devices for remote monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment are widely viewed as an important future direction for medicine, including for bipolar disorder and other mental illness. The number of smart, connected devices is expanding rapidly. IoT devices are being introduced in all aspects of everyday life, including devices in the home and wearables on the body. IoT devices are increasingly used in psychiatric research, and in the future may help to detect emotional reactions, mood states, stress, and cognitive abilities. This narrative review discusses some of the important fundamental issues related to the rapid growth of IoT devices.

Main body

Articles were searched between December 2019 and February 2020. Topics discussed include background on the growth of IoT, the security, safety and privacy issues related to IoT devices, and the new roles in the IoT economy for manufacturers, patients, and healthcare organizations.

Conclusions

The use of IoT devices will increase throughout psychiatry. The scale, complexity and passive nature of data collection with IoT devices

and from the connectivity between patients, healthcare providers, and device makers. Security, privacy and personal safety issues related to IoT devices are changing the roles of manufacturers, patients, physicians and healthcare IT organizations. Effective and safe use of IoT devices in psychiatry requires an understanding of these changes.

Background

The era of the Internet of Things (IoT) has arrived, where smart, connected technologies are being embedded in everyday objects such as cars, toothbrushes, washing machines, and physical infrastructure on a massive scale. The use of IoT devices for remote monitoring, diagnosis and treatment, is viewed as an important way to improve and expand individualized medical care and assist with lowering costs, including for bipolar disorder and other mental illness (Deloitte 2018; de la Torre Díez et al. 2018). While there is no standard definition, the IoT describes “the extension of network connectivity and computing capability to objects, devices, sensors and items not ordinarily considered to be computers” (Internet Society 2015). IoT devices can be thought of as physical devices with embedded technology that can sense, generate, store, and send data, and sometimes respond to commands via actuators that can modify the physical world. Increasingly, IoT devices will be installed in the home for medical purposes as selected by patients or recommended by physicians.

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