The Internet of Things. It sounds a little silly doesn’t it? I mean the internet is pretty much a constant in our daily lives, so what does the addition of ‘things’ add to its meaning?
When the Internet of Things (or IoT) is talked about, it relates to adding connectivity to physical objects. An example is a washing machine that can be programmed from your phone or a fridge that automatically orders a shopping delivery of the items you’ve run out of.
So far, so convenient – and a great money spinner for the likes of Amazon and other retail companies. But, what does it have to do with death?
Learning whilst living.
There are already ways that IoT is helping people manage their health today.
You have smart glucose monitors that tell you via an app whether you need insulin and Bluetooth enabled systems that allow you to check how quickly your blood clots. There are connected contact lenses that pre-warn of eye conditions and, there’s even an app to help monitor mental health through smart watches.
Connected devices are also being utilised by hospitals, with 33% of imaging and X Ray devices now being linked together. This allows for more accurate patient data readings in real-time, which can help the hospital to give patients the treatment they need more quickly.
Helping out in the home.
It’s a sad fact of life that as we get older, we get less able. Whilst the severity of this depends on the person, a lot of things that we once took for granted can become difficult. And this can mean that our homes can become difficult or even dangerous to navigate.
This is where the Internet of Things can make a big difference. From smart fridges which make sure you have enough food, to virtual house assistants that can provide everything from reminders to take medicines to calling emergency care.
In terms of dying at home, 63% of us want to go out this way but only 21% of us currently get that wish. IoT can help with this too, by creating a communication network between GP’s, hospices and hospitals. This network allows for an easier and cheaper transfer of information, making dying at home a more viable option.
Is smart technology secure?
For all its benefits, there are security risks associated with a more connected world. It’s an unsettling thought, the idea that a tool used to help someone live can be hacked – but it can be done. Take the hacker who was able to access someone’s pacemaker remotely.
This, plus other instances of hacking through smart technology show us that whilst the Internet of Things can become part of a positive death experience, it still needs to be treated with caution.
We need to take the security of our connected devices as seriously as we do with physical things like our house and car.
Helping the end of life process.
Despite these safety concerns, we still believe that the Internet of Things can be a powerful tool in helping us all have positive death experiences. Reducing friction and costs in the end of life process creates a more equal playing field, which can only be a positive.
No matter what the end of life process may look like in the future, the best way to make sure you get the death you want is to talk about your wishes first.
It can feel like a difficult conversation to have but there are tools to make it easier. One of these tools is our Farewell Wishes questionnaire. It takes two minutes and it’s free, so why not check it out?