IoT in the healthcare industry (Reader Forum)
The merge of technology and healthcare has never been more needed. The pandemic showed the world how urgent it was to update the global medical practices and make medical help more feasible for everybody.
Now technology is taking over the healthcare sector for good. The new era of the Internet of Things (IoT) will disrupt the way we interact with and receive medical help. According to experts, the business of IoT is about to reach a striking $176 billion by 2026.
IoT encompasses a range of products and services that will bring a shift from hospital-based to home-based diagnostics and care. People will have access to basic medical help in their pockets, and dealing with chronic diseases will become easier.
The revolution of IoT in the Healthcare Industry has already begun and is taking over with fast gear in motion. Here is everything you need to know about the role of the Internet of Things in creating a paradigm shift in healthcare.
What is the Internet of Things?
Think of the Internet of Things as a widespread network of devices that are connected to the Internet. This access and connection to the online world allow the devices to share and receive real-time data. Data forms the basis of every canny decision — big or small. The devices are connected through sensors and microprocessors.
IoT provides business leaders and decision-makers access to a variety of data to steer their fields in a better direction. This is exactly what IoT does for healthcare too. It keeps a constant connection between the patient and the doctor or medical worker so quick action can be taken in case of an emergency.
Internet of Things and its role in healthcare
The Internet of Things is gaining gradual traction. Combine it with the latest technological advancements like 5G wireless connection, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, and you have a revolution around the corner.
In the Healthcare industry, IoT is changing the way patients are monitored, diagnosed and treated. It is not only helping patients get access to quick medical help but also increasing productivity for healthcare workers by making redundant tasks easy and automated.
Examples of IoT in healthcare
There are several functions performed by IoT devices in healthcare. It can be used to monitor temperature after the administration of vaccines, upload updated medical data in emergencies, track the effectiveness of drugs and monitor heart rate and glucose. Wearable devices communicate with elderly patients immediately and accomplish several more purposes.
Consider a healthcare technology company called NexLeaf Analytics. The company aims to help improve the health conditions in developing and poor countries by improving the process of vaccination and cooking.
Its devices have a ColdTrace system in which a sensor is placed inside the vaccine storage refrigerators so that data about the temperature of those vaccines can be monitored in real-time. This way, the safety of disease-controlling injections and vaccines is ensured.
Another system, the StoveTrace, provides data via cloud technology about the stoves being used in rural households to cook food. After analysis, monetary rewards are prepared for people who shift to safer appliances that don’t use wood or emit a dangerous amount of carbon dioxide. StoveTrace aims to help people make a move towards clean cooking.
Advantages of IoT in healthcare
IoT has expanded the scope of medicine in multiple ways, including:
Emergency monitoring and control
Sometimes it becomes extremely difficult to get the person in need of urgent medical help to the hospital immediately. The patient may not be able to survive the long ride. IoT helps the patient connect with a doctor in an emergency, like a heart attack or asthma attack, while being at home.
The IoT will connect to an app that transfers real-time data like oxygen, blood pressure, weight and more information over the cloud to the doctor. The doctor will be able to receive data and provide an immediate solution. This will lead to a reduction in sudden deaths due to emergencies.
Reduction of costs
When people get medical help on time, they will not feel the need to make constant hospital visits. It will also decrease the number of people coming for admission to the hospital. Fewer resources will be utilized in treating a patient, and the overall costs will be reduced.
Data analysis and visualization
Diagnosing and treating a patient requires a huge amount of data. It is inefficient and slow to gather all the data from paper files and different medical centers. IoT devices can provide accumulated patient data and present it to the doctor in a consolidated form. All the doctor will need to do is assess the information and give the treatment.
This is especially important for tracking elder care. Elderly or disabled patients may not be able to get someone on time to help them with a health problem. Wearable tech devices can generate alerts in an urgent medical situation and monitor progress.
Challenges with IoT in healthcare
There are still some issues to tackle about IoT in healthcare like data privacy. A huge amount of data is dealt with, and patient data is sensitive. There needs to be a strict security wall to protect breaches of data by cybercriminals.
Doctors may be overwhelmed by data overload since detailed information from multiple sources is being provided. This also raises the issue of the integration of devices. To provide uniform data, several institutes will need to integrate devices to form an accurate report.
The devices do not cost less. So, they are a burden on the pockets of low-income patients.
IoT is not a standalone thing. The devices need to form a network and be connected with other technologies to give consolidated reports. IoT has the potential to take healthcare to the next big step, but it still needs some attention on issues of data privacy, speed, integration and a few more. But the revolution is around the corner.