Are IOT healthcare solutions the future of the healthcare industry?
The Internet of Things (IOT) is taking the world by storm as it is slowly woven into our everyday lives. With about 328 million devices being connected to the Internet each month, Industry 4.0 is growing at an astronomical rate.
IOT is quickly being implemented in global industries such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture, smart buildings, asset tracking and IOT healthcare, allowing us humans to work and live much more efficiently.
Technology is having an unprecedented impact on how healthcare is provided. As remote monitoring allows healthcare providers to understand more about their patients, the power of the cloud enables quick feedback loops that personalise healthcare in remarkable ways. IOT has the potential to not only keep patients safe and healthy but also to improve how physicians deliver care. Healthcare IOT can also boost patient engagement and satisfaction. This is done by giving patients the opportunity to spend more time interacting with their doctors.
What will IOT healthcare do for the future of the medical industry?
The Internet of Things is already changing so much about how we live, work and stay healthy. The main point of IOT is to make systems and processes more effective and efficient. That is precisely what it is doing for the healthcare industry. IOT technology is becoming a more influential presence in the healthcare field by making things easier for medical providers to keep track of and monitor patients between visits, as well as helping to predict future healthcare trends that can make diagnosing patients easier and more accurate. Implementing IOT helps to guide treatment in ways that are effective and timely. This, in turn, offers patients better care, as well as peace of mind during their recovery.
The fact is that physicians, nurses, administrators, patients, visitors and medical devices are all continually requiring access to a reliable enterprise network: a single integrated platform that's connected to multiple systems, applications, protocols and 'things' with a single operational and manageable user interface. That is IOT. It all sounds rather complicated. However, once everything is connected, productivity, efficiency and patient satisfaction will increase significantly without any sweat off your back.
IOT healthcare solutions
Due to the positive results IOT healthcare solutions have had in the medical industry, its use has rapidly increased. IOT has numerous applications in healthcare. This includes research, devices, care, medical information distribution and emergency care, as well as remote monitoring, smart sensors and medical device integration.
Access to modern research tools has rapidly developed over the years. However, the resources that are currently available to medical professionals still lack critical real-world information. Much of the medical research that is conducted with IOT is predominantly based on past cases, controlled environments and physical medical examinations. The use of IOT technology allows access to more valuable and accurate data and information obtained through analysis, real-time field data and testing.
Like in many other industries, IOT can deliver data to the healthcare industry that is far superior to standard analytics. This is through making use of instruments that are capable of performing extensive research. Essentially, IOT healthcare solutions provide more practical and reliable data. As a result, the investigation into better medical solutions and discovery of unknown issues is not only far more accessible but also more accurate than current research methods. Research provides vast insights into patient care, illnesses and medical solutions, making it one of the most critical IOT applications in healthcare.
IOT healthcare devices
We know that IOT has the potential to unlock existing technology. Therefore, implementing it into current medical devices that are already improving in their power, precision and availability mean that we can unlock better healthcare and medical device solutions at a more rapid rate. As better healthcare is the end goal, the ability to get there faster is invaluable.
IOT is systematic in the way that it works to fill the gaps between the way we currently deliver healthcare and the equipment we use to do so. IOT devices essentially work by detecting flaws and revealing patterns and missing elements and then suggesting improvements as well as guiding the way forward. Examples of these devices include air quality monitors, wearable body area sensors, Internet-connected gateways and cloud, and big data support systems.
Imagine if the wearable device connected to a patient tells you when their heart-rate is going off course. Or if the patient is skipping steps in their prescribed healthcare routine. Then, it shares that information with you, the healthcare professional. According to an article by HIT Consultant: "By updating the personal health data of patients in the cloud and eliminating the need to feed it into the electrical medical records, IOT ensures that every tiny little detail is taken into consideration to make the most advantageous decisions for patients. Moreover, it can be used as a medical adherence and home monitoring tool."
Care for patients
Even just implementing the Internet of Things into a medical practice allows professionals to use their already extensive knowledge and training more efficiently and practically to solve problems. The ability to monitor a patient's health and recovery in real-time is something that will completely revolutionise the healthcare industry. With empowered medical professionals and capable technology to back them, patients have wider access to more practical care.
Most patients are now looking for a more personal experience with their doctors. They want to find someone they can trust. Patients also expect a hospital they visit to have their medical records on file: from doctors' visits to prescriptions to known allergies and possible predisposed conditions. They expect treatment in a timely and attentive manner and are hoping to avoid the chance of complications or misdiagnosis. Now, this may make it sound like medical patients are a bit of hard work. However, when it comes to the handling and treatment of medical issues, everyone is well within their right to have a few expectations. And IOT has the power to make them happen.
This is why IOT solutions fit so well into the supply and demand of healthcare. More and more healthcare providers are turning to IOT to offer their patients the care they want. By implementing IOT into already existing systems, hospitals have been able to reduce wait times, monitor patients' health remotely, ensure the availability and accessibility of critical hardware, address chronic disease and even enhance drug management.
Mt. Sinai Medical Centre in New York City was able to effectively cut their emergency room wait times by 50%. That's 50% of patients receiving the healthcare they need, quickly. With remote monitoring, some patients don't even need to visit the emergency room or hospital. Their condition could simply be managed through remote contact with their doctor while their health is being monitored.
A continuum of care
As many patients prefer for their medical information to be easily accessible by their healthcare professional, it's advantageous for there to be a system in place that keeps a record of each visit. An article by CIO states that "IOT can streamline this process and make it possible to notify relevant providers of any visits, treatments and medications that have been prescribed between routine visits, creating a more comprehensive continuum of care."
Therefore, if patients are seeking different medical treatments from various specialists, or visit a different practitioner, a record of their treatment is kept and made available to relevant parties.
Medical information distribution
The distribution of accurate and current medical information to patients is one of the most challenging concepts of medical care. Ever heard those horror stories of people receiving the wrong medical file and being told they have cancer when, in fact, they have a common cold? Well, it happens, more than you'd think.
IOT devices not only improve health in the daily lives of individuals but also in medical, professional facilities. As with so many other industries, IOT technology removes the risk of detrimental human error. It is expected that, by 2020, medical data will double every 73 days. This is with each person creating one million gigabytes of personal health data. There will be approximately 646 million IOT devices used by medical providers, payers and consumers.
This staggering increase of data production means, instead of generating all this data and sending it to the cloud, IOT devices can process it to gain insights so professionals can act as quickly and accurately as possible.
Emergency care services have long suffered from limited resources, an excess of demand and disconnection from the base facility. IOT analytics and automation mean that emergencies can be tended to remotely. Relevant healthcare providers can gain access to the patient files before they even arrive at the hospital. The allows for the appropriate actions to be taken immediately after the patient arrives.
Connected patients, connected beds, connected medications, and critical supplies all have a massive impact on how things are handled in the emergency room. If you've ever been unfortunate enough to visit an emergency room, you'll know how painful endless wait times and dismissive service can be. When you're already in pain, this is the last thing you want.
To effectively bottleneck the delivery of emergency room care, many elements need to be tightly choreographed. These include the patient's arrival, intake staff, processes, doctors, specialists, beds, medical equipment, drug doses, supplies, and other hospital resources. Any delay or hiccup regarding any of these elements can cause a domino effect. This slows down the entire operation of that emergency room. IOT connected devices could provide actionable data that helps rescue and expedite the patient experience.
Remote monitoring with IOT healthcare
With aging populations and an increase in chronic disease all over the world, the need for efficient healthcare solutions that help maintain the wellbeing of people is at an all-time high. IOT remote monitoring is one solution that is proving to help decrease the pressure on hospitals and other healthcare providers, reduce healthcare costs, improve homecare for patients, as well as provide more extensive ongoing support for the elderly and people suffering from chronic diseases.
As traditional health-monitoring models are typically time-consuming and inconvenient, there is a high demand for efficient healthcare solutions that can help to deliver smarter, more accurate and timely treatment to medical patients. Since the birth of IOT, there has been an increase in the use of mobile technologies and smart devices in the healthcare industry.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) offers medical patients better access to caregivers. This is as IOT healthcare solutions increase the capacity of medical workers to treat more patients. As well as improving the quantity of care, RPM also can improve the quality of care. As mentioned before, patients may be able to decrease the number of visits they make to the doctor significantly. For people living with chronic diseases, this can help to improve their quality of life factors by a mile.
When it comes to the health of the medical providers, RPM connects them more directly with relevant patient data. This makes their daily routines more efficient and eases the possibility of them burning out. Happy doctors generally mean happy patients.
Furthermore, remote monitoring helps patients be more accountable for their health. This is by giving them access to comfortable, familiar and easy-to-understand technology. With this level of familiarity - with some take-home devices resembling that of a smartphone or tablet - patients are far more likely to engage in tracking their health from home. Better engaged patients also tend to take more control of their health. They want to stay healthy, therefore, are more likely to embrace caregivers' recommendations and track their progress.
The future of IOT healthcare solutions
IOT healthcare is not without its challenges. As the Internet of Things is still in its infancy, there are many developments yet to come. Some challenges that lie in front of IOT healthcare include:
* Security threats: the security of personal health information, stored and conveyed through connected devices.
* Multiple device integration: device manufacturers are yet to agree upon set protocols and standards. A difference in protocols results in complications with the process of grouping the information.
* Inferring results from extensive data: coming up with results from such a significant amount of data can be challenging without a refined analytics program and data experts.
However, since the creation of IOT health, organisations within the healthcare industry, as well as IOT providers, have been able to manage these challenges through implementation. In fact, nearly 60% of health organisations have introduced IOT devices into their facilities and 73% use IOT for maintenance and monitoring.
Furthermore, 87% of healthcare organisations plan to implement IOT technology into their facilities by 2019. This is slightly higher than the 85% of businesses across various other industries.
It is clear that IOT healthcare is on the rise and taking the healthcare industry by storm. With the right IOT provider, you can implement IOT technology into your healthcare facility without disruption to everyday operations. With technology-agnostic IOT solutions, a digitalised, interconnected environment can be overlaid into existing setups, meaning your older equipment can be protected, data feeds have more interconnectivity, and real-time actionable insights can be drawn. Therefore, with the IOT healthcare community set to account for $117 billion by 2020, IOT healthcare solutions are not to be ignored.