09-05-2019 | | By Moe Long
The Internet of Things (IoT) ushered in a new era of innovation. IoT applications range from shipping and manufacturing to smart home control and automation, and even entertainment. Notably, the healthcare sector benefited from the Internet of Things greatly. When applied to the healthcare industry, IoT carries loads of potential. From drug administration to patient monitoring, its uses are nearly limitless. Check out how IoT is revolutionising healthcare.
Easily one of the most practical Internet of Things use cases is remote monitoring and reporting. In healthcare, it’s no different. Often, patients may receive what’s known as telehealth, or remote patient monitoring. The practice of remote healthcare lowers costs for the patient, and may even increase efficiency for the healthcare practitioner. As Healthcare Dive reports, Biotricity employs its bioflux IoT-enabled electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring device to remotely record data on patients. Likewise, BodyGuardian provides a remote heart monitoring solution which makes it possible for patient monitoring.
Wearables are all the rage. These vary from more business-oriented IoT devices such as the Apple Watch, to Garmin fitness wearables, and FitBits. Many health and fitness wearables, and even smartwatches, tout monitoring capabilities. With either built-in or external heart rate monitoring, step counters, and even the likes of VO2 max tracking, key statistics may be gathered and analysed. These stats may prove crucial in watching for health-related issues, both for the end user and healthcare providers. Wearables typically feature Bluetooth or another wireless communication protocol which sends data from the device to a phone, tablet, or computer, generally with a companion app where statistics are aggregated for trend analysis.
IoT proves handy in supply chains and inventory management. This remains true for the IoT in healthcare, but inventory may fall on two fronts. There’s common inventory, such as hardware, and also personnel. Real-time tracking may be used to identify where various people, and objects, are as well as operational issues. For instance, if various processes are efficient, what hardware is used most and least, and other managerial stats. Plus, this affords a slew of benefits such as automatically ordering new drugs when supplies dip below a certain level.
Likewise, IoT may be applied to drug management. Though it may sound like an invention from the mind of great sci-fi authors such as Philip K. Dick, pills may feature tiny sensors which communicate with a wearable, often a patch, to dictate proper dosage. Data collected may be used for patient monitoring to ensure drugs are administered as intended. One San Diego, California-based hospital debuted an RFID drug management system which added not only the benefits of drug management but also inventory tracking.
In the public health realm, the Internet of Things proves crucial. Companies such as Nexleaf offer technology to improve healthcare in rural communities. For instance, Nexleaf’s ColdTrace system delivers remote temperature monitoring for vaccine refrigerators. That way, public health officials may provide comprehensive safety checks, even from afar. Likewise, its StoveTrace comes as a cloud-based remote monitoring solution for stoves. StoveTrace tracks various metrics, and even rewards uses for employing low carbon emission cooking methods.
Aclima developed a mobile sensing platform for better analysing urban air quality. Boasting support from Google, who installed Aclima sensors on its StreetView vehicles, it’s a nifty and far-reaching IoT healthcare solution for uncovering valuable data on air quality and how it’s affected.
The benefits of the Internet of Things in healthcare are vast. Particularly, when fused with healthcare, IoT may be used for increasing efficiency in hospital operations, improving patient monitoring, and even providing accessible solutions for wearable technology. But whenever internet connectivity comes into play, security concerns arise. It’s no different with IoT in healthcare. IoT devices can be susceptible. While previously there were merely concerns regarding patient data and complying with HIPPA, now there’s a potential risk from hackers.
With connected IoT medical devices comes vulnerability. A fridge being hacked doesn’t necessarily pose a threat to human life. But an Internet-enabled asthma inhaler hacked could prove lethal. Deploying healthcare IoT applications requires much stricter security than the Internet of Things in other industries. Nevertheless, studies prove that IoT in healthcare will continue to flourish. From public health to fitness wearables and inventory management, healthcare remains an industry heavily impacted by IoT.