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IoT in Healthcare
IoT or the Internet of things is a new milestone in the digital era whereby physical objects can communicate with each other and function without human dependency. These objects are termed as smart devices and can be controlled by an app installed on your smartphone. IoT can be applied to every sphere of our life where electronic objects are used. To make them IoT enable, these objects are embedded with a networking chip that will help in remote access and regulation. These devices can be programmed to respond to indicators which can be external factors like temperature, time light etc or internal indicators that are sourced from other IoT abled devices. The scope of IoT is wide and is rapidly becoming a part of our everyday life.
The most important application of IoT is its use in healthcare. Real-time monitoring of patients becomes possible with the use of IoT in bedside devices in the hospital or the use of smart devices that will allow healthcare individuals to monitor patients remotely enhancing the level of treatment that is given.
Here is a list of some of the benefits of using IoT in the health care system:
Improved disease management
IoT enabled devices allows real-time monitoring of patients which means no data in relation to the condition of the patient is missed. For example, the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature etc. This facilitates the proper diagnosis of the illness. Most bedside hospital devices can be IoT enabled. This will make sure that even if the doctor of the nurse is not available with the patient all that time his condition can be monitored remotely in an app. The IoT devices are also interconnected which means that they can be programmed to give the immediate assistance that is required. The IoT devices can be set up with a higher and a lower value limit. In case any of the devices registers a higher or lower value limit then it will automatically trigger another connected device that will help to stabilize the condition of the patient. Simultaneously it will also trigger an alert to the app in the smartphone of the doctor or nurse or the caregiver. This will ensure the constant medical assistance that is required in intensive units in hospitals.
Remote monitoring of health
IoT enabled smart devices allows for patients to be monitored remotely as well. Even if the patient is not in the hospital the smart devices will collect constant data. For example, the blood pressure and temperature wearable is a small smart device that can be worn on the wrist that will help to monitor the heartbeat, blood pressure and the body temperature of the patient. The high and the low indicators can be set at particular levels which when reached will send out an alert to the app in the smartphone of the patient or caregiver and the patient can get the required medical attention right away.
Connected healthcare and virtual infrastructure
The data collected by IoT enabled devices are stored in the cloud which makes its storage and access easy for future reference or remote study. Also because the data that is collected by the smart devices in real time and can be accessed from anywhere by the internet it becomes possible to provide health care remotely. This means that, even if a specialist is not located near the patient, he can still get the required assistance as his condition can be monitored remotely and diagnosed accurately. In this case, the patient need not be in the hospital he can be at home and still receive the health care that he needs due to the presence of the virtual hospital via IoT enabled devices.
IoT enabled devices can go a long way toward helping people in locations where there are no proper hospitals and staff. Remote access can allow doctors and nurses to monitor and diagnose illnesses to provide basic and vital health care that is required.
Accurate data collection and its availability
The constant automated monitoring of the patient allows for accurate data collection without the possibility of error. This enhances the study of the patient’s condition leading to proper diagnosis and precise treatment. This data can be stored for future reference as well. In case a doctor must refer to the case history of the patient he can access it via the IoT cloud and have a better understanding of the patient’s condition. This is applicable in case of emergencies as well when immediate assistance is required and there may not be enough time to contact family for past conditions and sensitivities. Access to the IoT data can provide the data immediately enhancing the medical attention that the patient requires.
IoT devices also help the doctors in patient charting which otherwise would have taken hours to complete. But with new technology, this can be done within hours with simple voice commands.
IoT has introduced talking devices that will remind patients of the medications that they need to take. This enhances the timely delivery of drugs especially to elderly people suffering from blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer etc.
Remote monitoring of patients with the help of the IoT wearables has made it possible to keep a real-time track of health conditions. Any indication that the patient will be requiring immediate medical attention will alert the hospital or caregiver and the patient can be brought to the hospital in time to receive emergency medical care. This is definitely a lifesaver as time is a huge factor in giving the right treatment to avoid complications and reduce risk.
Consider the huge amount of data that is collected in the IoT cloud of patients with various illnesses. This data can be effectively used as a statistical study that supports medical research. A study that would have taken years to collect the data can be completed easily by extracting information from the IoT cloud. This is not only time saving but it also saves a lot of money as well which would have been required to conduct the study. This will largely impact the field of medical research and allow for greater and better medical treatments to be introduced.
IoT has been implemented in various devices to enhance the care that is received by the patients. Apart from the already existing devices which have been upgraded by IoT using embedded chips a new generation of smart devices have also been introduced that can enhance the care and assistance that patients require.
Here is a list of the popular smart devices that IoT has introduced:
Wearables are small smart devices that can be used in sync with a smartphone app that will allow monitoring of the health of a patient in real time.
These head mounted smart device can be worn throughout the day to enhance the mood. The moodable sends out low-intensity pulses to the brain that helps to elevate the mood of the wearer. This device would be a boon for people who depend on antidepressants as this device can be worn throughout the day and will not have the usual side effects that accompany the use of antidepressant drugs.
These are the newest hearing aids that are enhancing the quality of life in people who have hearing loss. Hearables are synced with an app in the smartphone of the person wearing it which will allow the person to control and enhance the real-world sound with equalizer, filter, and other features.
These are small capsule-sized IoT sensors that can be ingested by the patient to help the medical team monitor the body irregularities and blood levels to determine if the medications have been taken as prescribed. This can be particularly helpful for elderly patients whose medications can be tracked.
IoT is an emerging field in the digital world and is slowly gaining momentum and reaching out to remote areas of the world. Its scope is wide and research is being conducted to bring out even more people-friendly devices that will help enhance the quality of life. Its application in the healthcare system is manifold with many digital companies investing largely in the development of new IoT enabled devices using computer vision technology.
Although there are various benefits that come with the use of IoT enable devices there are various challenges as well that comes with a new technology.
- Varied standards and protocols: There are a whole lot of devices that are used in the health care system now that are IoT enabled. There are multiple devices that are integrated to monitor a single patient at times. The variance in the standard and protocols of the various devices make it difficult to integrate and interpret the data.
- Security and Privacy: We know that the data between a doctor and a patient is bound by Doctor-patient confidentiality. The easy availability and access of the data can compromise this security of personal health information of both the patient and the doctor. There is a possibility of cybercriminals misusing this data to create fake IDs to get access to drugs that can be later used for selling or use data to file fraudulent insurance claims.
- Data overload: There are various devices that are used with technology all of which may not have the same communication protocols and standards.This can lead to a tremendous amount of data to be aggregated all of which may not be effective in interpreting sensibly.
IoT has brought a new level of quality in the working of the healthcare institution by enhancing health monitoring and access to medical data. Although its dependency on the internet can be a downside during outages of the network has many more benefits that it offers with the fast and immediate response. The use of IoT has reduced the cost of manpower as most devices are automated and reduce the expense that the patient, incurs in a stay at the hospital as he can come back home and still be monitored remotely by the medical team.
The scope and popularity of IoT are increasing rapidly and it is finding its way into every field reducing the need for manpower and enhancing automation in every step. These intercommunicating devices are enhancing efficiency by reducing the possibilities of human errors and saving lots of time that can be utilized for a different purpose. Hence the use of IoT in healthcare apps is now becoming a must.