The overall cost, the experience in the hospital, patient outcomes and technology is changing and improving healthcare. Costs are reduced by the use of remote patient monitoring and reducing the number of hospital visits. Sensor technology offers tracking of medical devices and improves overall efficiency. Predictive maintenance decreases downtime of medical equipment offering consistent and accurate use. Healthcare providers are among the earliest adopters of Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT in healthcare covers various computing and wireless broadcasting information systems and devices that help patients and providers to monitor, track and store patients’ important statistics or medical information. Nowadays multiple hospitals have started to use smart beds that can sense the proximity of a patient and automatically set themselves to the correct side and force to give peculiar support without the requirement for a nurse to interrupt.
Internet-of-Things can include some of the following:
- Consumer Fitness Tracking – Fitness Bands like FitBit, MisFit, etc.
- Wearable External Devices – Insulin Pumps.
- Implanted Devices – Pacemakers.
- Stationary Devices – Fetal Monitors.
In short, Internet-of-Things for healthcare includes those devices that can sense and collect actionable data. When shared with physicians or healthcare professionals via cloud computing, this data saves significant time and augments patient care.
Healthcare is such a vast ecosystem and once you also start including personal healthcare, the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare insurance, RTHS, healthcare building facilities, robotics, biosensors, smart beds, smart pills, anything remote and the various healthcare specializations, activities and even (treatments of) diseases, that list of Internet of Things applications in healthcare quickly becomes endless. The advantages of IoT in healthcare are seemingly endless, but here’s just a few of the major benefits:
- Reduced Errors – IoT allows for the accurate collection of data, automated workflows and minimised waste, but most importantly it reduces the risk of error.
- Decreased costs – With IoT, patient monitoring can be done in real-time, drastically cutting down the need for doctors going out and making visits. Connected home care facilities will also help reduce hospital stays and re-admissions.
- Better patient experience – A connected healthcare system creates an environment that meets each patient’s needs. Dedicated procedures, enhanced treatment options and improved diagnosis accuracy make for a better patient experience.
- Improved disease management – With real-time data healthcare providers can continuously monitor patients. This means that they can spot any disease before it spreads and becomes serious.
- Homecare– Allows patients to be monitored in the comfort of their own homes. Sensors are installed onto various pieces of medical apparatus (e.g. heart rate monitors) by the bedside of a patient. The data gathered is sent to the hospital where a qualified member of staff analyses it for any abnormalities.
The developments of IoT have the potential to really revolutionise healthcare in a positive way.
However, we must be careful. Health data is sensitive and if it’s shared inappropriately or misused has the potential to damage people’s privacy. Ensuring hospitals have secure and manageable infrastructure is essential in the healthcare sector.