IoT in healthcare: Applications, benefits, challenges & Future!

Posted by Karan Shah · 15 Feb, 2022 · 11 Min read
IoT in healthcare: Applications, benefits, challenges & Future!

Whenever we talk about the Internet of Things in the healthcare and medical sector, we always reciprocate this term in context with smart hospitals, sensors, and equipment. But the solutions developed go way beyond these.

In fact, the spendings on IoT-powered solutions in the healthcare domain is expected to reach $1 trillion by the year 2025.

Sounds so staggering!

Though remote sensored medical devices have been around for more than a decade and the concept of telemedicine is in practice for a while, the underlying technology has evolved 100X times throughout the year. Now, it’s time to say goodbye to those long-formed queues in front of the doctor’s clinic. Today, we have a list of multiple interconnected devices that are capable enough to make prompt decisions by working together as a group and sharing information to the cloud – IoT.

The recent advancement of IoT technology has enabled the devices to make a real-time analysis which wasn’t possible earlier.

Let’s understand this with the help of a use case.

Use Case – Occupancy Sensor: IoT based Chair to detect device statistics.

 Occupancy Sensor: IoT based Chair to detect device statistics

SoluteLabs – A leading mobile app development company developed one such device; IoT based chair - An equipment that detects the motion to indicate the human presence and collect the utilization statistics over a period of time. Backed with a Force sensing resistor, whenever a user sits on a chair, it acts as a sensor and transmits the data to the software. The data stored would be further visualized in form of heatmaps to identify the device usage and further reduce lightening energy consumption by 50%.

The technologies used to create such IoT powered device includes AWS IoT, MQTT, NextJS NestJS, and Figma

The invention of IoT-powered devices not only assists healthcare organizations with personalized access but also reduces the service cost to a great extent. Right from monitoring health, notifying current heart rates to give real-time health alerts, there are innumerable areas where IoT healthcare can find their involvement.

The Telehealth Explosion and Virtual Care Will Remain Mainstay

The covid-19 pandemic quickly accelerated innovation in terms of the delivery of goods, services, and solutions. And the same ramp-up is witnessed in the healthcare sector in terms of telehealth since the inception of a pandemic.

Healthcare providers connected with patients via video conferencing and voice-over calls to avoid in-person meetings and thus prevent themselves from contagious disease.

The Telehealth Explosion and Virtual Care Will Remain Mainstay

Post-pandemic, virtual care will likely remain a mainstay and is anticipated to get adapted more by small-town practitioners and health workers. With the wide acceptance by physicians and patients, in-person visits for routine follow-ups and reports feedback would be drastically eliminated. As telehealth expands, physicians, hospitals, and other clinical will make a shift towards IoT-powered devices and applications to collect, analyze and monitor patients’ data in real-time scenario.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the Internet of Things (IoT) for healthcare, its advantages, challenges, applications, and a lot more. So, let’s deep dive to know more.

What exactly is IoT and why it plays a crucial role in the healthcare segment?

IoT is a concept built around the idea of ubiquitous computing where the information processing is linked with external objects or real-time activity. It involves the connection of devices with microprocessors and sensors to communicate and pass data to the cloud.

When it comes to omnipresent computing, nothing is better than considering IoT in the healthcare industry.

For example, innumerable intelligent devices can be connected and set up in hospitals and nursing homes to monitor patients’ health 24/7, communicate and send information to each other to make the decision-making process streamlined and easy, and upload the same information to the healthcare cloud platform. It not only enhances the productivity of healthcare workers but also automates the task and reduces manual resource involvement.

How IoT can be used in healthcare effectively – Real Time Examples

Let’s understand how IoT powered devices to aid the healthcare industry to automate the task and streamline operations with the below examples:

  • With the help of connected devices, one can analyze, and upload real-time patient information to the cloud right from ambulance, home, office, anywhere.
  • Since medical devices are well-equipped with the self-maintenance system, IoT healthcare device will find out their components, identify low thresholds, and communicate with medical assistants and manufacturers as and when needed.
  • With the help of IoT and wearables, patients taking home care and elders can directly communicate with healthcare workers.
  • The upsurge of telemedicine is all due to IoT. With IoT-powered devices, the patient can be observed and treated digitally through electronic actuators and a video conferencing system.

IoT in Healthcare – Benefits

1. Quick reporting and monitoring

By performing real-time monitoring of a patient’s health condition, all information and required health data is collected in the smart medical device interconnected with a smartphone app. Later, the smartphone data connection is used to transfer the collected information to the cloud platform or directly to the physician for quick and accurate decisions.

A study conducted by the Centre of connected health policy indicated that a 50% reduction was noticed in heart failure patients in the 30-days readmission rate due to remote patient monitoring.

Thinking how these devices would be serving multiple endpoints?

Here you go: The IoT devices collect and transfer the health data including oxygen level, sugar level, blood pressure, weight, ECG, and more to the cloud platform. At a later stage, this information is shared with an authorized person who could either be a physician, medical insurer, health firm, or consultant so that they can have a glance over the collected data on their device and at their convenience.

This approach not only streamlines the operation but also reduces the mortality rate to a great extent.

2. End-to-end connectivity & affordability

Introduction to healthcare mobility solutions, latest IoT technologies, and next-gen health care facilities prove to be of immense help in automating the patient care workflow.

IoT equipped healthcare services to enable interoperability, make machine communication streamline, exchange information at blazing fast speed and the data movement makes healthcare service delivery effective.

Talking about the connectivity protocols – ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, Z-wave, and other modern protocols and healthcare personnel have transformed the way they spot illness and ailments in patients and have found a revolutionary approach to treat patients across multi-healthcare fields.

This tech-driven healthcare setup lowers the healthcare cost by eliminating unnecessary doctor's visits, making optimum resource usage, and improving resource allocation and planning.

3. Real-time tracking & alerts

When the conditions are critical, on-time alerts are quite essential. These medical IoT devices understand the signs of any diseases and pass the signals data to doctors in real-time scenarios along with dropping notifications to concerned people via notification and smart sensors.

These real-time reports and alerts are useful to give an opinion about the patient’s condition regardless of place and time. It also helps healthcare providers to leverage on-time treatment and make accurate decisions.

These IoT-based devices having capabilities like real-time alerting, tracking, monitoring allow doctors to give hands-on treatment with better accuracy along with remote improving patient care systems.

4. Remote medical assistance

At times of emergency, smartphones have become the way to connect with patients leaving kilometers away. With the introduction of mobility solutions in the healthcare system, doctors can treat the patients’ ailments on the go.

Apart from this, numerous IoT-based healthcare delivery chains forecast to build machines and systems to distribute drugs based on the doctor's description and ailment-related data linked through the device.

This further enhancement of IoT will improve patient care in hospitals and will cut down people’s healthcare expenses to a great extent.

Did you know: According to the CDC, 463 million adults have diabetes worldwide. In the United States alone, 34.2 million adults have diabetes, 10.5% of the population.

What’s the solution? – IoT based Glucose Monitoring System

For more than 30 million Americans suffering from diabetes, glucose monitoring has been difficult. Not only it seems inconvenient to check and record glucose levels manually but doing so would have a record of the levels checked during the time test was conducted. If in some cases a fluctuating level is noticed widely, periodic testing seems impractical.

IoT devices can challenge these issues by automating glucose level monitoring in patients. It thus eliminates the need to keep manual records and also alerts patients when the glucose level seems problematic.

What are the challenges faced in IoT based healthcare system?

1. Data security & privacy

One of the most significant challenges in an IoT-powered healthcare system is data security and privacy. Though IoT devices capture and transmit data in a real-time scenario, it somehow lacks data protocol and security standards.

The data ownership regulation is quite unclear with electronic devices. All these factors make the data suspectable and open for cybercriminals to attack the system and compromise on personal health information of doctors and patients.

It further alarms a threat to the entire health ecosystem as the health record can be misused to create fake IDs to purchase drugs and medical equipment’s which can be later encashed. This information can further be used to file a fraud claim in the patient’s name.

2. Integration of multi-devices and protocol

Integration of multiple devices can also cause hindrances in implementing IoT. The reason behind this is – the device manufacturer hasn’t reached an agreement regarding protocol and communication standards.

Let’s say if multiple devices are connected, the difference in their communication protocol and standards acts as a hindrance in the process of data aggregation. This non-uniformity of the connected device’s protocol slows down the entire process and thus reduces the scalability of IoT-powered healthcare systems.

3. Data overload & security

Due to different communication protocols and standards, data aggregation seems difficult to incorporate. Though IoT devices collect innumerable data which is used to gain vital insights but taking decisions based on these data is extremely difficult for doctors and staffing members since the data is huge. It eventually impacts the decision-making quality and leads to issues arising with patients' safety.

Moreover, this concern is rising as more devices are connected which record more and more data.

Applications of IoT in Healthcare

1. Hearables

This new age hearing aids have changed the way deaf people interact with the world. These hearables are quite compatible with Bluetooth that is directly in sync with your smartphone.

It allows you to add various filters, equalize and extra layered features to real-world sounds that make these hearables the best match for your ears. One of the finest hearables I can recommend is Doppler Labs.

2. Computer vision technology

Computer vision blended with AI has given birth to the drone technology that aims to mimic visual perception and thus make decisions out of it. Drones like Skydio makes use of this tech blend to detect obstacles on way and navigate around them.

The optimum use of this technology can be made by visually impaired people for easy navigation.

3. Moodables

The invention of these mood-changing devices not only enhances our mood the entire day but also elevates the level of dopamine and serotonin (mood hormones of the human body).

But how does it works?

These head-mounted devices send low-intensity current to the brain and senses which elevates our mood by reducing stress, anxiety, and pressure hormones.

Though it may sound like an illusion the reality isn’t far away. Thync and Halo Neurosciences are already doing their job right and have made commendable progress on the same.

4. Ingestible sensors

Ingestible sensors are genuinely a miracle gifted by so-called modern medical science. These pill-sized sensors not only monitor medication in our body but also alarms us in case of any irregularities found in our bodies.

These sensors act as a boon for diabetic prone patients since they would help them deal with the symptoms and cure them by leveraging early warnings before any critical health issues take place. Proteus Digital Health is one such company that takes care of its patients through ingestible sensors.

5. Insulin pens & smart CGM

To monitor the blood glucose levels in a real-time scenario, these insulin pens are used. The recorded data is shared through the dedicated mobile app on a cloud server or with physicians. Patients with diabetes and high glucose levels can also make use of these devices to share real-time data with their doctors.

6. Healthcare charting

Powered by voice commands, IoT -backed device Audemix reduces the doctor’s manual efforts by capturing and charting the patient’s data while accessing them. It makes the patient’s data readily accessible for review and thus saves the doctor’s time and efforts by 15 hours.

7. Smart video pills

To take an evident picture of the patient’s intestinal tract, a smart pill travel through the patient's body and sends the internal pictures to a wearable device connected with a dedicated mobile app.

These smart pills can even help you to visualize the gastrointestinal tract and colon remotely in a real-time scenario.

Why is The Internet Of Things Is The Future Of Healthcare?

IoT in the healthcare sector explores new ways to treat diseases globally.

83% of organizations have improved their efficiency by introducing IoT technology- Says DataProt

Along with improving components including medical services and gadgets, it also enhances healthcare applications that aid in better patient monitoring, telemedicine services, imaging, medication management, and overall workflow management in the hospital.

The IoT for healthcare will not only be incorporated by hospitals and healthcare centers but will also be widely adopted by surgical centers, research organizations, and government institutions.

Let’s claim it with some insightful statistics that describe what future does IoT holds in the healthcare sector.

  1. IoT solutions have the potential to generate $4-11 trillion in economic value by 2025.
  2. The consumer IoT market is estimated to reach $142 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 17%.
  3. It’s estimated that global IoT spending will total $15 trillion in the six years between 2019 and 2025.
  4. The amount of data generated by IoT devices is expected to reach 73.1 ZB (zettabytes) by 2025.

Conclusion

IoT has changed the way people look at healthcare and hospitality systems. Adoption of these technologies will improve product development and will bring a long-term effect by bringing those minor changes.

Looking to build IoT powered healthcare solution?

We’ve got your back!

We at SoluteLabs empower healthcare companies and their workforces to embrace and utilize cutting-edge yet transformative solutions to get better data-driven insights for the decision-making process. So, are you and your organization ready to shift your legacy system with IoT powered solution and get the most out of innovation?

Talk to our experts to start reaping connected benefits.

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