Technological advancement is revolutionizing every industry, including healthcare. Services are being redefined by the Internet of Things (IoT) due to its usage in applications, medical devices, and interactions between people and the healthcare providers. According to BI Intelligence, the presence of IoT devices in healthcare will increase to $ 646 million in 2020.
As IoT devices such as remote patient monitoring or wearable devices are fitted with sensors, they inform the physician of body parameter changes in a patient (monitoring patients in real-time), assist in detecting health issues before they arise, eg. chronic diseases, reduce costs and the number of visits to a hospital, and gives physicians the access to data for proactive management and healthcare (diagnosis and treatment is done sooner).
IoT in healthcare refers to physical objects (medical devices) that are embedded with technology while making it possible to exchange data and increase efficiencies. It is proposed by P&S Market Research, between 2015 & 2020, the compound annual growth rate of IoT in the healthcare industry will be 37.6%. Via IoT in devices, patients can track appointments, check calories, blood pressure and much more.
For healthcare organizations to reach new levels of effectiveness, accurateness, and patient safety, they require data in real-time (data such as patient records, wristbands, specimens, medications, inventory (equipment's) and assets) which is possible through IoT.
Enhanced patient care:
To avoid the regular pen and paper documentation which could include errors as well as wastage of time in questionnaires, using mobiles and wearable devices (these can be incorporated into the hospital's system), and the option of medical records being stored on their system, can assist in delivering improved patient care. Also, practitioners can carry all the data in their smart phone's applications.
By using the highly intelligent IoT technology, humidity and temperature can be controlled in operating rooms (via sensors). Also, medical equipment's such as wheelchairs, nebulizers, pumps etc. can be located due to embedded sensors. There also exists the IoT technology of hand hygiene compliance - Hand hygiene monitoring systems start buzzing if a clinician comes visits a patient without washing hands. Hospitals have begun to use Smart Beds which adjust angle and pressure as per the person's position eliminating the need of a nurse.
Improved patient outcomes:
Cloud computing or virtual infrastructure assists medical practitioners in gaining real-time information leading to timely and apt treatment. This also assists in disease management as illnesses are treated before they become uncontrollable leading to satisfied patients due to precision, proactive treatment, and timely intervention. Through IoT's seamless connection between devices, aspects such as room lighting, communication through email, and instantaneous attention to patient's needs can be made possible along with giving all the patient information through the cloud.
Drug management and error reduction:
With IoT, costs and inventory of drugs and equipment are better managed. Automated workflows and decisions based on accurate data lead to minimal errors along with a reduction in waste.
Open Artificial Pancreas System - closed-loop insulin delivery, continuous glucose monitoring system, activity trackers (for cancer treatment), medication dispensing devices, Niox Mino for measuring Intric Oxide, connected inhalers such as Propeller's Breezhaler device, ingestible sensors, connected contact lenses, UroSense for catheterized patients to check on urine output and body temperature, Apple's research kit for arthritis, GPS SmartSole, a wearable device in shoe-tracking targeted for dementia patients, and a breakthrough development by 2019 of 'a system using sensors, mobiles, and machine learning' to track and provide disease-related information in real-time for Parkinson's.
Adapting IoT in healthcare systems will certainly improve the lives of millions. Organizations not latching on to this new technology will be left behind. IoT must be allowed to take the reins for complete patient health care.