Evolution of IoT in Healthcare

IoT in healthcare can improve the quality of service and dramatically reduce healthcare costs. IoT is already in some parts of healthcare, but it has much more potential to radically changes hospitals and medicine.

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Evolution-of-IoT-in-Healthcare
Illustration: © IoT For All

St. John Sepis Agent, DocBox and identification of environmental factors affecting babies in the hospitals are three recent and classic illustrations demonstrating the apparent impact of IoT in healthcare on the health of patients’ well-being. While St. John Sepsis Agent, developed by the Cerner Corporation, helps to reduce the deadliest effects of sepsis resulting in 20-30 percent chances of survival, the DocBox has solved the integration of IoT with medical devices by developing a successful interface that helps healthcare executives get data insights from complex medical devices and improve patient outcomes. Additionally, closed-loop insulin delivery devices, continuous glucose monitoring devices, connected inhalers, and ingestible sensors are just among the few path-breaking technologies that have been commercialized and changing the perceptions of fundamental healthcare techniques with the implementation of IoT.

Increasing acceptance of the Internet of Things has potentially life-saving applications within the healthcare industry. By collecting data from bedside devices, viewing patient information and diagnosing in real time, the entire system of patient care could be improved with the help of IoT in healthcare, including the patient experience. By 2019, 87 percent of all healthcare organizations are likely to have implemented IoT technology.

Evolution of Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare:

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a subject of global interest over a couple of decades. However, the healthcare industry has just begun to understand the tremendous potential and benefits that can be offered among several verticals of the industry through the provision of the new and more advanced type of healthcare devices, services and interactions. The Internet of Things has recalibrated the healthcare industry with its endless applications in the structure. The enactment of IoT in healthcare started with its adoption in remote patient monitoring to the retraction of data from bedside devices which can help physicians and nurses make better medical decisions and reduce human interaction,s thereby eliminating error rates.

Why is IoT in Healthcare a Big Deal?

For all the intents and purposes, IoT in healthcare has begun to pave its path and employed as a practice among caregivers and patients changing the way patient care was defined in previous decades. The healthcare industry has almost abandoned hope due to its costlier than ever healthcare services, aging of the global population and a number of chronic diseases on the rise. To its rescue, the Internet of Things in healthcare is coming in the form of X-ray machines to patient monitoring units and hospital meters that help improve operations and patient care. Although the use of the internet and technology doesn’t stop the population from aging or help eradicate chronic diseases, it contributes remarkably to make the healthcare services accessible, better and easier on the pocket.

IoT in healthcare has been embedded in current procedures and systems mostly in the context of remote patient monitoring in real time, collection and transfer of health data, end to end connectivity that assists in patient flow automation at the organizational levels and helps to enable interoperability, data movement, vital information analysis and exchange as well as machine communication. In the case of medical diagnostics, IoT has helped transform routine medical check-ups to be more patient and home-centric as opposed to hospital-centric approaches. IoT in healthcare has thus contributed to re-define monitoring, diagnosis, treatments and therapeutics in customary healthcare view-points, thereby reducing costs and errors.

National healthcare departments of almost all the countries across the world are battling under dual pressures for increasing the demands from users for their services and atrocious underfunding. The Internet of Things is likely to help make healthcare more efficient and avaricious. Equipping objects with sensors to monitor their external environment and including an internet connection that communicates are likely to offer the greatest ability for organizations to collect data and report back in real time. On a more prosaic level, IoT helps to track a piece of vital and expensive equipment more effectively, leaving signs for increasing appetite for IoT devices within the healthcare industry.

IoT in Healthcare: Futuristic Aspects

The long forecasted revolution of IoT in healthcare is already on its way, although the existing applications can just be considered the tip of the iceberg. The new use cases that are emerging to address the need for betterment are likely to mark their footprints with the help of breakthrough innovations and ideas. Some of the highly predicted aspects in which IoT in healthcare is expected to bloom include advancements in sensor technologies, improvements in systems to gather and process data and integration of artificial intelligence technologies in healthcare.

Smart sensors, a combination of sensors and micro-controllers, assist in harnessing the power of healthcare IoT in terms of accurate measurement, analysis, monitoring and assessing a multitude of parameters in healthcare. On the other hand, the improvement in sensor technologies is complemented by developments in the ability to collect and gather data that eliminates manual-data entries, and automation reduces the risk of errors.

In terms of improving the existing implementations, research studies are in progress to enhance the usability and connectivity capabilities required in various areas of healthcare. Low-power operation is one of the essential characteristics focused on by researchers who are trying to utilize energy-harvesting systems with the help of ultra-low power voltage converters. On the other hand, more straightforward and user-friendly graphical user interfaces that are worked upon help improve usability and allow the user to explore options in the systems. Similarly, integration of precise analog control operations, such as high-resolution analog to digital converters, will help improve efficacy and output. On the contrary, increasing adoption of smartphones and wireless connectivity to a reduction in sensor prices are further expected to be supportive in the growth of IoT in the healthcare market.

Moreover, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and its alliance with IoT is one of the critical aspects of the digital transformation in modern healthcare. The central pairing is likely to result in speeding up the complicated procedures and data functionalities that are otherwise tedious and time-consuming. AI along with sensor technologies from IoT can lead to better decision making. Advances in connectivity through artificial intelligence are expected to promote an understanding of therapy and enable preventive care that promises a better future.

Challenges to IoT in Healthcare:

The new technologies, in spite of their immense potential to change the healthcare model, have specific difficulties associated with their practical implementation. Prevalent challenges revolve around the generation of tremendous data through a high number of devices associated with the system and threat of cyber attacks and data breaches. Despite the exciting advancements offered by IoT and AI in healthcare, several medical organizations are cautious about proceeding with these systems. The multitude of information collected in the forms of digital pathology data, diagnostic data, sensor data, EHR data, imaging data and others leads to excessive deposition of data that are difficult to handle This could lead to unauthorized access of this data by cybercriminals to create fake IDs, smuggle drugs or file a fraudulent insurance claim on the patient’s name. Solutions for data scalability and protection through cybersecurity would address the critical nature of IoT in healthcare boosting its applications and adoption rates in the future.

Conclusion:

There are limitless predictions about the revolution that can be brought through the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare by improving the quality of healthcare and dramatically reducing healthcare costs. Taking a closer look at the technical aspects, the role of IoT in healthcare is yet to be explored at greater depths to improve gateways for information accessibility and analysis. IoT in healthcare is expected to bloom and overcome its challenges to revolutionize the conventional healthcare models of the future.

Written by Sharmistha Rao, a Senior Consultant in the Healthcare Space.