IoT within healthcare – applications, advantages, and challenges
The healthcare domain is in a position of disarray. Healthcare services are more expensive than ever before, the international population is getting older and the number of chronic illnesses is on a rise.
The healthcare domain is in a position of disrepair. Healthcare services are become increasingly unaffordable, the international population is ageing, and therefore prone to illness and the number of chronic illnesses is escalating.
What is quickly turning into reality is a planet where basic healthcare will become inaccessible to a majority of people, a dominant portion of society would go non-productive due to reasons of old age and individuals will be more prone to chronic disease. Disturbingly, new pandemics are on the horizon.
Is this Judgment Day? Regardless of what it is, IoT app development is your saviour.
While technology has not evolved to the juncture where we can just pause ageing or exterminate chronic illnesses at once, it can at least make healthcare simpler by outfitting the users with pocket friendly medical facilities.
Medical diagnostic consumes a major portion of hospital bills. Technology can shift the routines of medical checks from a hospital (hospital-centric) to the patient’s home (home-centric).
The correct patient outcomes have further have the outcome of the minimized expense of hospitalization. A new paradigm, referred to as the Internet-of-Things (IoT), has an extensive applicability in several areas, which includes healthcare.
The complete application of this paradigm in the healthcare service is a mutual hope as it facilitates medical services providers to operate more competently and patients to receive improved treatments.
With the leveraging of this technology-based healthcare strategy, there are unparalleled advantages which could enhance the quality and efficiency of treatments and accordingly enhance the health of the elderly patients.
Simultaneous reporting and monitoring
Remote health monitoring through connected devices can save lives in the scenario of a medical emergency such as heart failure, diabetes, asthma attacks, etc.
With real-time monitoring of the health condition in place by means of a smart medical device linked to a smartphone app, linked medical devices can gather medical and other needed health information and leveraging of the data connection of the smartphone to transfer gathered data to a physician or to a cloud platform.
Centre of Connected Health Policy carried out a research that indicates that there was a half-fold reduction in a one-month readmission rates due to the remote patient monitoring on heart failure patients.
The IoT device gathers and transfers health information: blood pressure, oxygen, and blood sugar levels, weight, and ECGs.
This information is recorded in the cloud and can be shared with authorized personnel, who could be a healthcare practitioner, your insurance organization, a participating health firm or an external consultant, to facilitate them to look at the gathered data notwithstanding their place, time, or device.
End-to-end connectivity and affordability
IoT can go about automating patient care workflow with the assistance of healthcare mobility solution and other fresh IoT technologies, and next-gen healthcare facilities.
IoT in healthcare facilitates interoperability, artificial intelligence machine-to-machine communication, information exchange, and data movement that confers effectiveness about healthcare service delivery.
Connectivity protocols: Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, Z-wave, ZigBee, and other advanced protocols, healthcare personnel can modify the fashion in which they identify illnesses and ailments in patients and can additionally innovate revolutionary ways of treating across differing healthcare domains.
As a consequence, technology-driven setup brings down the healthcare expenses, by minimizing unneeded visits, utilization of improved quality resources, and enhancing the allocation and planning.
Data assortment and analysis
Massive amount of data that a healthcare device transmits in a very short time due to their real-time application is difficult to record and handle if the access to cloud is not available.
Even for healthcare professionals to obtain data coming from several devices and sources and undertake analysis of it manually is a tough bet.
IoT devices can gather, report, and analyse the real-time data and cut the requirement to record the raw data.
This all can occur overcloud with the providers only obtaining access to final reports with graphs.
Further, healthcare operations facilitate organizations to obtain crucial healthcare analytics and data-driven insights which hasten decision-making and is less susceptible to errors.
Tracking and alerts
On-time alert is crucial in chronic afflictions. Medical IoT devices collect vital indicators of an illness and transmit that information to healthcare practitioners for real-time tracking, while dropping notifications to people about critical parts through mobile apps and smart sensors.
Reports and alerts provide a firm opinion with regards to a patient’s condition, regardless of place and time.
It additionally assists healthcare providers to make well-versed decisions and furnish on-time treatment.
Therefore, IoT facilitates real-time alerting, tracking, and monitoring, which enables hands-on treatments, improved precision, appropriate intervention by doctors and enhance complete patient care delivery results.
Remote medical assistance
In the scenario of an emergency, patients can get in touch with a healthcare practitioner who is several kilometres away with smart mobile applications.
With mobility solutions in healthcare, the medics can instantaneously check the patients and detect the ailments on-the-go.
Additionally, several IoT-based healthcare delivery chains that are predicting to build machines that can distribute drugs based on the patient’s prescription and ailment-connected data available through linked devices.
IoT will enhance the patient’s care in hospital. This in turn, will cut on individual’s expenditure on healthcare.
IoT healthcare applications can additionally be leveraged for research purposes. It’s due to IoT that we have been enabled to gather a massive amount of data with regards to the patient’s condition which would have taken several years if we gathered it manually.
This data thus gathered can be harnessed for statistical study that would be compatible with the medical research.
Therefore, IoT has a massive impact within the domain of medical research. It facilitates the introduction of improved and evolved better medical treatments.
IoT is leveraged in an array of devices that improve the quality of the healthcare services obtained by the patients.
Even the current devices are presently being updated by IoT by merely leveraging embedding chips of smart hospital devices. This chip improves the assistance and care that a patient needs.
Data security and privacy
One of the most considerable challenges in healthcare that IoT presents is of data security and privacy. IoT security devices gather and transmit information on a real-time basis.
But, a majority of IoT devices lack information protocols and security requirements.
On top of that, there is considerable ambiguity with regards to data ownership regulation with electronic devices.
All these aspects make the information very susceptible to cybercriminals who can hack into the system and compromise Personal Health Information (PHI) of both patients in addition to healthcare practitioners.
Cybercriminals can abuse patient’s electronic health record to develop fake IDs to purchase drugs and medical equipment which they can sell later on.
Hackers can additionally file a fraudulent insurance claim in the patient’s name.
Integration: several devices and protocols
Integration of several devices also creates hinderance in the implementing of IoT in the healthcare domain.
The reason for this hindrance is that device manufacturers haven’t attained consensus with regard to communication protocols and standard.
So, even if the range of devices are linked, the variations in their communication protocol complicates the procedure of data aggregation.
This non-uniformity of the linked device’s protocols slows down the pace of the entire process and minimizes the scope of scalability of IoT in healthcare.
Data overload & accuracy/precision
As discussed prior, data aggregation is tough owing to the leveraging of differing communication protocols and standards.
But, IoT devices still document a massive amount of data. The data gathered by IoT devices are harnessed to obtain crucial insights.
Although, the amount of data is so massive that obtaining insights from it are becoming really tough for doctors which, ultimately impacts the quality of decision-making. This will ultimately lead to patient safety issues.
Further, this concern is escalating as more devices are linked which record an increasing amount of data.
Surprised to see expense considerations in the challenge sections? We know a majority of our readers would be, but the bottom line is: IoT has not made the healthcare facilities accessible to the everyman yet.
The escalation in healthcare expenses is a sign of concern for everybody particularly the developed nations.
The scenario is such that it made way for “medical tourism” in which patients with critical ailments access healthcare facilities of the developing countries which costs them as low as 1/10th. IoT within healthcare as a concept is a fascinating and promising idea.
However, it hasn’t identified a solution to the expense considerations as of now. To successfully implement IoT application development and to obtain its total optimization the stakeholders must make it cost effective, or else it will always stay out of everybody’s reach except the population from the high class.
Why is it critical in healthcare?
We can consider an IoT healthcare domain as an assortment of ubiquitous computing that primarily deals with external activities. Within healthcare, IoT-based healthcare systems gather an array of patient information and obtain inputs from healthcare practitioners and professionals. Ongoing glucose monitoring for insulin pens is the best instance of this.
All these devices can interact with one another and take critical actions that would furnish timely assistance to save somebody’s life. Upon gathering this data, an IoT healthcare device would transmit this crucial data to the cloud so that healthcare professionals can act upon it.
From this, we can state that the prospective application of Internet-of-things in healthcare can enhance not just a patient’s health but also the health care staff productivity and hospital workflows.
How Internet-of-things assists in healthcare – Process
Listed here is the comprehensive workflow of Internet-of-things healthcare:
- A sensor gathers information from a patient, doctor, or nurse inputs data.
- AI-driven algorithms such as Machine Learning (ML) is leveraged to undertake analysis of the gathered data.
- The device decides if to act or send the data to the cloud.
- Doctors or health practitioners can make actionable and informed decisions on the basis of data furnished by IoT healthcare solutions.
Future of Internet of Things in healthcare
We can view an IoT unit as a device with a sensor that can communicate with the physical world and deliver data to the internet. All these IoT-based healthcare devices can interact with one another to take critical actions that would furnish timely assistance or even save a life.
After gathering passive information, IoT healthcare devices would transmit this crucial data to the cloud so that doctors can act upon it. Therefore, IoT-based healthcare services not just enhance a patient’s health and assist in crucial scenarios but also the productivity of health staff and healthcare organization’s workflows.
Applications of IoT in healthcare
The proliferation of IoT is thrilling for all owing to its differing scope of usage in several sectors. Within healthcare it has various applications. Here are a few noteworthy IoT applications in healthcare:
- Minimizing emergency room wait time
- Tracking of patients, hospital employees, and inventory
- Improving drug administration/management
- Making sure that critical hardware is available
IoT has additionally paved the way for various wearables and devices which has improved the quality of life of patients. Some of these are listed below:
Hearables are new-age hearing aids which have totally revolutionized the way persons who are impacted by hearing loss interact with the world.
Currently, hearables are compatible with Bluetooth which syncs your mobile phone with it.
It enables you to filter, equalize and include layered features to real-world sounds. Doppler Labs is a good instance of this.
Ingestible sensors are really a miracle of modern science. These are capsule-sized sensors which survey the medication in our body and cautions us if it detects any irregularities in our bodies.
These sensors can be a gift for a diabetic patient as would assist in curbing symptoms and furnish an early warning for crucial health issues. Proteus Digital Health is one such instance.
Moodables are mood improving devices which assist in enhancing our mood throughout the day. It might appear to be science fiction, but it’s not too distant a reality.
Thync and Halo Neurosciences are already operating on it and has made massive progression.
Moodables are head-mounted wearables that transmit low-intensity current to the brain which improves our mood.
Computer vision technology
Computer vision technology combined with AI has paved the way for drone technology which intends to emulate visual perception and therefore decision-making on that basis.
Drones such as Skydio leverage computer vision technology to identify obstacles and to work their way around them. This technology can additionally be leveraged for visually impaired persons to navigate effectively.
IoT gadgets like Audemix minimize a majority of manual work which a doctor has to perform during the course of patient charting.
It is driven by voice commands and captures the patient’s information.
It makes the patient’s information readily accessible for review. It cuts down on doctor’s work hours by approximately 15 hours each week.
Insulin pens and Smart CGM
These devices are harnessed for the real-time monitoring of blood glucose levels and information sharing over a dedicated smartphone application.
Smart video pills
A smart pill traverses through a patient’s intestinal tract to capture an accurate picture. It can transmit those images to wearable devices that are linked with dedicated medical applications. Smart pills are additionally beneficial to visualize the gastrointestinal and colon remotely.
IoT incites a paradigm shift in the way the facilities are delivered to the healthcare domain.
These technologies enhance the product, creating a larger impact by bringing together small changes.