The Internet of Things is revolutionizing healthcare and the way applications, devices and people interact when delivering healthcare solutions. IoT has given a fresh perspective in providing a higher standard of care as its tools facilitate an integrated healthcare network.
The use of IoT in healthcare enables the automation of processes that were previously time-consuming. Such processes were also prone to human error. For instance – many hospitals, nowadays, implement connected devices that control the airflow and temperature in operating theatres.:
Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages of IoT in healthcare:
Reduced Errors – IoT enables accurate collection of data, automated workflows and reduced waste, but one of the key benefits is that it reduces the chances of error.
Decreased costs – Using IoT, monitoring the patients’ condition can be done in real-time, drastically reducing the need for doctors making house visits. Connected home care also enables a decrease in hospital stays and re-admissions.
Better patient experience – An interconnected healthcare system sustains an environment that adheres to each patient’s needs. Enhanced treatment options, dedicated procedures and improved diagnosis accuracy lead to a better patient experience.
Improved disease management – Using real-time data, healthcare professionals can monitor patient conditions continuously. This allows them to detect any illness or disease earlier, sometimes even before it has a chance to spread and become serious.
Homecare – Machine to machine communication, or M2M can be used to monitor patients from the comfort of their own home. Sensors are installed on select medical devices and equipment that are at the patient’s bedside. The data collected is then sent to the hospital where a medical expert analyzes it to chart condition and progress as well as looking for any abnormalities.
What does this mean for healthcare?
As the technology offers several key benefits, including time scheduling and allocation of resources, it is no wonder that the technology has been implemented to handle many real-life situations.
Let’s look at a few real-world applications of IoT:
- Symptom-tracking apps that are capable of sending regular updates on responses to cancer treatment to the physician and can be used at home instead of being admitted to a hospital.
- Interconnected hospital equipment that alerts doctors of their current location, updates the hospital management of their replacement requirements and monitors staff performance.
- Remote temperature monitoring ensures and monitors proper transportation and storage of vaccines.
- Healthcare IT solutions that send reminders to patients regarding medication and digestible sensors that trigger a notification if a medication is skipped or not taken on time.
- Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) and smart insulin pens that are capable of storing and suggesting the time and quantity of insulin dose injection has been a major innovation for diabetics.
- Smart inhalers that are connected to an application on smartphones that enables people with breathing conditions like asthma and pulmonary disease to understand the causes of their symptoms and predict allergens.
The innovations and development of IoT has the potential to improve several aspects of medical operations and procedures while improving patient care, optimizing workflows and saving time for both; patients and medical professionals. However, it must be approached with caution. As it deals with sensitive health data, if it is misused or shared inappropriately can potentially lead to damaging patient’s privacy. Going forward, it is essential for all applications of IoT to focus on ensuring secure and manageable infrastructure for hospitals and other medical institutions.