The concept of the internet of things (IoT) entails the use of electronic devices that help to capture or monitor data and are linked to a public or private network, empowering them to mechanically initiate certain events.
In this article, we will study the context of IoT in the healthcare industry and come across the myriad of benefits it has bestowed upon it.
Internet of Things and the healthcare industry
Before the arrival of IoT, the patient’s interactions with doctors were restricted to physical visits and tele and text communications. There was absolutely no way in which the doctors could continuously monitor a patient’s health and suggest treatments accordingly.
However, with the introduction of IoT in the healthcare sector, patient care has undergone a paradigm shift, making superlative care accessible to all. The amazing IoT-enabled devices have made remote monitoring possible, empowering the doctors to deliver superior healthcare. It has also facilitated patient engagement by making interactions with doctors much more convenient and efficient. Furthermore, remote monitoring has greatly diminished health care costs by reducing the length of hospital stay and preventing readmissions.
With the use of this technology-based healthcare system, the quality and efficiency of treatments have improved. Today, there are numerous applications of IoT in healthcare that are benefiting patients, families, hospitals and doctors in a big way.
Simultaneous reporting and monitoring
Real-time monitoring of patients helps in dispensing quicker and more effective treatment. Reporting emergencies through a mobile app allows doctors to access information faster and offer high-quality care much before the patient reaches the hospital.
A smart gadget is connected to a mobile app that collects medical and all other necessary health-related data, such as oxygen and blood sugar levels, blood pressure, ECGs, weight, etc. All the data is collected and stored in the cloud and can easily be shared with the respective person, such as your doctor, a consultant or the insurance company, irrespective of their location, time and device.
Data assortment and analysis
Owing to the real-time application of health care devices, vast amounts of data are collected in a short time. Storing and analyzing this data manually would become an unimaginably hard task, if not for IoT devices.
IoT devices can collect, analyze and report the data in real time, diminishing the need to store raw files. All this can easily happen over the cloud with doctors directly getting access to the final reports with graphs. These devices offer robust health care analytics and data-driven insights, which are less prone to errors and help to speed up the decision-making process.
Tracking and alerts
Wearables and smart devices are dominating our lives by allowing us to monitor ourselves and optimize our health data. Today, there are a plethora of IoT-enabled wearables and implantable devices that seek to monitor patient's health. These devices are connected to various parts of the body to help doctors track a patient's condition in real-time and offer hands-on treatments with improved accuracy.
IoT can also be used for research purposes as it helps to collect a massive amount of data about the patient's health. All this assembled data can be used for the statistical study to support medical research. Through this research, newer and improved technologies and treatments are being undiscovered that enhance the quality of health care services received by the patients.
With the evolution of IoT in the healthcare sector, several wearables and other devices have cropped up in the market that seeks to make the lives of patients much more comfortable. Let us learn about some incredible applications of IoT in the health industry.
These are new-age hearing devices that have momentously transformed the way people suffering from hearing loss interact with the world.
Doppler Labs is a pioneer in the field that recently launched wireless and Bluetooth-compatible earbuds that come with a unique ability to cancel out all unwanted background noise. These amazing devices can amplify the voice of a particular person and even converse with individuals speaking in another language.
Edible IoT pills, also known as smart pills, are small ingestible sensors that help to monitor medication in our body and warns us in case of any irregularities. These pill-sized sensors dissolve in the stomach and transmit a signal to a sensor worn on the body. This signal can also be transferred to mobile phones for easy access to the patients. These pills are especially helpful for diabetic people as it can help to curb symptoms and give early warning indications of the disease.
Proteus Digital Health, WuXi Pharma Tech and TruTag are some of the leaders in the space.
Computer vision technology
Computer vision technology coupled with artificial intelligence has helped in the evolution of drone technology. With this technology, one can easily mimic visual perception, detect obstacles and navigate around with ease.
The technology is increasingly being used to develop devices for the visually impaired to help them move around easily.
These are head-mounted wearable devices that help to enhance the mood and keep the energy level elevated throughout the day. These devices transmit low-intensity current to the brain which uplifts the mood. Companies like Halo Neurosciences and Thync have made giant strides in this field by largely investing in the development of mood tables.
Some challenges associated with IoT in healthcare
If IoT in health care sounds like a dream rather than a reality, it almost is. However, sometimes in certain situations, the challenges associated with this technology nearly overshadow the benefits.
To begin with, security and privacy of personal data is the topmost concern related to IoT in healthcare. While most of today's devices use robust methods to communicate data to the cloud, they still could be vulnerable to hacking. A lot of companies are working toward integrating foolproof systems that ensure security in medical data storage. Even when this issue is resolved, the right implementation of technology will require exhaustive training for both the administrators and the physicians. Many healthcare enterprises do not have the time and resources to implement technology and offer adequate training to doctors.
Besides security, another challenge of IoT in health care is accessibility. The internet is not accessible to everyone, especially those who are living in remote rural areas. This technology is fairly expensive and beyond the reach of those in the low-income bracket.
For healthcare IT departments, the amount of data obtained through connected devices can sometimes be overwhelming. Consequently, health organizations have to adopt smart IoT solutions to tame the data and use it in the right way, which is, again, very capital-intensive.
Despite the challenges, the future of healthcare will indubitably incorporate IoT. By improving parts of the already existing products and driving positive change in healthcare and to the lives of patients worldwide, this technology is revolutionizing the medical industry in unprecedented ways. With improved levels of connectivity and more sophisticated tools for collecting and analyzing data, newer scientific endeavors are possible every day.