The Internet of Things is now very much evolving as to how we live, work and stay safe. IoT’s main aim is to make the structures and processes more productive and reliable. This is precisely what it does for the healthcare sector. By making it easier for medical providers to keep track of patients and monitor them, IoT technology is becoming a more prominent force in healthcare. As well as helping to predict potential developments in healthcare that can promote and make patient diagnosis more effective. Implementing IoT helps direct care inefficient and timely ways.
Medical IoT has a share of over 33% of the entire IoT market. Globally, IoT technologies are currently being introduced by over 60 % of medical organizations worldwide. The number of patients and healthcare professionals using IoT-connected tools for health monitoring will rise by 44.4% annually in the coming years. Healthcare’s IoT can be an answer to a variety of issues that have plagued treatment throughout history. As is anticipated, the Internet of Things and Healthcare will offer positive benefits to each other.
Why did the Healthcare Sector feel the need for IoT?
Physicians, nurses, staff, patients, visitors and medical equipment all need constant access to a secure enterprise network. A single integrated platform with a single operational and manageable user interface that is connected to multiple systems, programs, protocols and ‘stuff’ which is all IoT. The whole thing sounds very complicated. However, once all is associated, there will be a substantial improvement in profitability, performance and customer satisfaction without any sweat from behind.
- Many patients simply disregard a specialist’s requirements, use home remedies or medication which is suggested, friends or relatives. IoT healthcare solutions allow remote tracking of medication adherence and patient involvement, which helps the patient to get treatment under the control of a doctor.
- Even on normal days, hospitals often don’t have enough staff capacity to serve all the patients coming in. Pandemic only exacerbated this issue in times and revealed the shortcomings in the current healthcare process. By implementing the Internet of Things into the healthcare industry, we will greatly speed up and simplify the medical process. Connected technology can help track the admission of patients, automate workflows, forecast patient inflow during an outbreak time like we are having currently.
- IoT can significantly reduce the cost of maintenance of premises, personnel, transport, and other things in the countries where resources are limited and it is not always possible to meet all the requirements.
Healthcare Segments under the purview of IoT
- Research: Using IoT technology allows access to more reliable and precise data and knowledge acquired through research, real-time field data and testing. IoT helps us to gather a huge amount of realistic and accurate knowledge about the patient’s condition that would have taken several years if we manually collected it. The study offers detailed insights into health treatment, illnesses, and approaches to medical problems. Making it one of healthcare’s most important IoT applications.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): Smart medical devices linked to a mobile app are able to collect medical and other necessary health-related data. Such data are stored securely in the cloud and could be shared with an authorized person who may be a physician, the insurance provider, a participating healthcare organization or an external advisor, to access the collected data irrespective of their location, time or device. By this, IoT healthcare technologies increase medical professionals’ ability to handle more patients as well as boost the amount of treatment given. It helps patients to substantially decrease the number of doctor visits they make in general. This can help to improve the quality of life factors by a mile for people who are living with chronic diseases.
- Healthcare Devices: IoT is comprehensive in how it works to fill the gaps between the way we provide treatment in present and the equipment we use currently. We can access new approaches to healthcare and medical devices at a faster pace. The opportunity to get there quicker is invaluable because improved treatment is the ultimate goal. Fundamentally, IoT devices work by identifying vulnerabilities and recognizing patterns and defective components, and then recommending changes and leading to the way ahead. Examples of such devices include air quality monitors, wearable body area sensors, internet-connected gateways and cloud support systems, and big data support. Through storing patient’s personal health records on the cloud and removing the need to feed it into the Electrical Medical Records, IoT ensures that every little detail is taken into account in order to make the most effective decisions for patients.
- Treatment: IoT technologies work very well within healthcare supply and demand. More and more healthcare professionals turn to IoT to provide their patients with the treatment they need. Hospitals have been able to minimize waiting times, track patient safety remotely, ensure the availability and accessibility of vital equipment, counter chronic disease and even enhance medication management by integrating IoT in current systems.
- Emergency Cases: Many components need to be closely coordinated to efficiently optimize the processing of emergency room treatment. This includes the arrival of the patient, admission staff, procedures, physicians, specialists, beds, medical equipment, doses of medications, supplies, and other hospital resources. Any delay or misstep with respect to any of these elements could cause a ripple effect. This slows down much of the emergency room’s service. IoT-connected devices could offer actionable data to support rescue and improve the patient experience. IoT analytics and automation allow emergencies to be managed remotely. Relevant healthcare professionals can access the patient files even before they enter the hospital. That allows immediate action to be taken after the patient arrives.
Shortcomings identified, that still need to be overcome
- Data security & privacy is one of the most important risks IoT faces. IoT devices capture and transmit real-time data. Most IoT devices, however, lack protocols and standards for the data. In addition to this, there is significant uncertainty about the enforcement of data ownership. Both of these factors make the data particularly vulnerable to cybercriminals who can break into the network and compromise both patients and doctors’ Personal Health Information (PHI). Cybercriminals may manipulate patient data to build fake IDs to purchase drugs and medical equipment that they may later sell. Hackers can also file in the name of the patient a fraudulent claim for insurance.
- Multiple device integration also causes obstacles to IoT implementation in the healthcare sector. The cause of this impediment is that device manufacturers have not reached a consensus on protocols and standard of communication. And even if the different device is connected; the disparity in their communication protocol complicates and hinders the data aggregation process. This non-uniformity of the protocols of the connected computer delays the entire process and limits the versatility of IoT scalability in healthcare.
- As discussed earlier, the use of various communication protocols & standards makes the aggregation of data difficult. IoT devices still register a ton of data, however. The data obtained by IoT systems are used to gain insights into critical issues. Nevertheless, the amount of data is so huge that it becomes extremely difficult for doctors to draw insights from it which ultimately affects the quality of decision-making. In addition, this issue is growing as more devices are connected and are increasingly recording data.
Even In the times of this pandemic, the technologies of IoT are finding their importance and popularity. With the implementation of drones and other technologies of mass sanitization, and every little thing that is coming up and increasingly becoming a part of the day-to-day lives, shows the growing need and popularity of the IoT. As is known, science and media are unanimously talking about how the mankind has to adapt and survive with the existence of the virus in the immediate atmosphere, it goes without saying that the crucial need of the Internet of Things has just begun. The human race is yet to experience the vastness and far fetched capabilities of the IoT technologies.