The internet of things (IoT) has tremendous potential in any industry relying on data-driven processes. In recent years, healthcare has emerged as a strong market for IoT.
75% of healthcare IT experts believe the quality of medical services would increase significantly if they used interconnected medical devices. 94% also agree on the importance of digital recordkeeping. To realize the potential of these technologies, there has to be greater investment in healthcare IoT.
What is IoT in Healthcare?
IoT in healthcare refers to the use of connected devices, sensors, inter-system dataflows, wearables, and often augmented reality/virtual reality apps for better patient outcomes and the ease of providing treatment for medical professionals. It may also be called the internet of medical things or IoMT in certain scenarios.
A healthcare IoT solution will comprise the following:
- Sensors: Different sensor devices, like pulse-oximeters, electrocardiograms, thermometers, fluid level sensors, or sphygmomanometers (blood pressure), are used by IoT in healthcare to determine the current patient condition (data).
- Underlying infrastructure: The infrastructure of an IoT platform or product, consisting of hardware and software components, reads sensor data and displays them on a dedicated device.
- Connectivity channels and protocols: This IoT solution improves the connection (via Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.) of sensors or devices to servers/clouds and vice versa for data retrieval.
- Healthcare analytics: Healthcare systems examine sensor data and link it with patient health indicators to determine the patient’s health status. Based on the examination of the data, medical practitioners may optimize patient health.
- IoT platform: This IoT solution offers healthcare practitioners dashboards carrying comprehensive patient information.
Before the rise of IoT, patients’ contact with physicians was restricted to in-person visits, telephone calls, and text messages. There was no mechanism for physicians or hospitals to continually assess patients’ health and offer suggestions in response.
IoT-enabled gadgets provide remote monitoring in the healthcare industry. This unlocks the capacity to keep patients healthy and safe and enables doctors to provide exceptional care.
It has also enhanced patient involvement and happiness, as interactions with physicians have become simpler and more productive. In addition, remote monitoring of patients’ health aids in reducing hospital visits and preventing readmissions.
IoT additionally has a huge influence on dramatically reducing healthcare expenses and enhancing treatment outcomes. Consequently, IoT implementation in healthcare benefits patients, families, doctors, health facilities, and insurance companies.
Understanding the Role of IoT in Healthcare
The use of IoT in healthcare can be classified as follows:
1. IoT use cases for medical professionals
Utilizing IoT-enabled wearables as well as other home monitoring technologies, doctors may more efficiently monitor patients’ health. They can monitor patients’ adherence to treatment programs and any urgent medical needs. IoT helps healthcare workers to be more vigilant and initiate proactive interactions with their patients. Data acquired from IoT devices may assist clinicians in determining the optimal treatment plan for a patient and achieving the desired objectives.
2. IoT use cases for patients and preventive healthcare
IoT has revolutionized the lives of individuals, particularly senior patients, by enabling continuous monitoring of health issues. This has a significant impact on single individuals and their families. Upon any disruption or change in a person’s routine activities, the alarm notifies families and concerned healthcare professionals.
In addition, patients have access to personalized care via wearables such as fitness bands and other wirelessly linked devices such as blood pressure and heart rate tracking cuffs, glucometers, etc. These gadgets may be configured to remind users of calorie counts, activity assessments, consultations, blood pressure fluctuations, and numerous other events.
3. IoT health insurance use cases
IoT devices improve the underwriting, costing, claims processing, and risk assessment operations between insurers and consumers.
The data gathered by health monitoring devices may be used by insurance companies for underwriting and claims procedures. This information will help them detect fraudulent claims and uncover underwriting opportunities. Insurers may potentially provide consumers with incentives for utilizing and disclosing health data provided by IoT devices.
4. IoT in hospitals and clinics
In hospitals, IoT devices are beneficial in a wide range of contexts beyond only monitoring patients’ health. IoT devices embedded with sensors are used to track the real-time location of medical equipment such as wheelchairs, defibrillators, nebulizers, and oxygen pumps.
The transmission of infections is another key issue for patients. Hygiene monitoring devices enabled by IoT protects patients from being infected.
Integrating IoT with Healthcare Information Systems: An Important Challenge
As more and more real-time health-related data is gathered and made available, it is incorporated into electronic healthcare records (EHR).
However, EHR systems are not ubiquitous, and the majority also weren’t designed with IoT, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging, or real-time data in mind. Based on relatively static data, they have been developed to improve healthcare from the perspective of patient health and the tasks of healthcare professionals.
These results are also critical in several IoT healthcare use cases, although they aren’t always realized. In addition, there are many different methods for the digitalization of healthcare records that an IoT implementation must accommodate for these disparities in reality.
In actuality, not all health data from linked devices reaches the EHR. Depending on the kind of data, device, scope, and objective, there are several other information systems and methods of insight. This is why there is a trend toward Real-Time Health Systems (RTHS), that go beyond EHR and incorporate mindfulness and real-time data capacities from the standpoint of IoT and connected/wearable devices.
EHR systems are part of these RTHS systems, and their approach to a much broader context — as well as processes.
Examples of IoT in Healthcare
Here are a few notable examples of IoT in healthcare that have used the technology in unique and innovative ways:
1. Sydney’s end-to-end “virtual” hospital
Sydney’s RPA Virtual Hospital was the first virtual hospital in New South Wales when it debuted in February 2020 — just before Australia was beset by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Utilizing pulse oximeters as well as armpit patches to assess body temperature, the hospital “redesigned” swiftly to offer remote treatment for patients exhibiting coronavirus symptoms. The data from these are transferred to the virtual hospital’s doctors via an app installed on users’ mobile devices.
2. Philips’ wearable biosensors
Philips stated in May 2020 that it had gained FDA approval and CE certification for a smart, wireless biosensor to monitor hospitalized Covid-19 patients and identify early signs of deterioration.
The Philips Biosensor BX100 was originally placed at the OLVG Hospital in Holland, wherein it has been utilized to remotely monitor COVID-diagnosed or suspected patients in isolation rooms who don’t need ventilator support.
3. Smart inhalers by UK’s QIoT
A startup specializing in connected medical equipment, QIoT, announced the creation of a smart inhaler in June 2020. This IoT) healthcare device may offer medical practitioners a warning system for irregular or unexpected usage, as well as tell them remotely whether or not patients are receiving sufficient medicine.
The intelligent inhaler from QIoT is connected to an AI-powered platform that can take into account seasonal triggers, pollen levels, and individual medical histories. NHS Scotland conducted tests on this unique, new device.
IoT in Healthcare Statistics and Trends for 2023
The internet of things and healthcare is a perfect fit. Keeping this in mind, here are the notable trends to remember in 2023:
- According to Goldman Sachs, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) will save the healthcare sector by up to $300 billion.
- 70% of products such as Fitbit Versa, Apple Watch, and Samsung Galaxy Watch are devoted to health and fitness.
- Healthcare-related Revenues from IoT are anticipated to rise to over $135 billion by 2025.
- 3% of healthcare duties now include health monitoring, computerized recordkeeping, and other digital technologies.
In other words, the healthcare sector is racing to embrace IoT, and there are several existing and new healthcare IoT use cases that will demand the industry’s attention in 2023.
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