The use of technology in the healthcare industry has skyrocketed in the last few years. The recent race in the healthcare industry is all about improving the overall quality of the services for the patients while driving the costs low. The integration of futuristic technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning has only made healthcare services more efficient and cost-effective. IoT is just another disruptive technology that has already shown great potential to improve the quality and productivity of the healthcare industry.
In basic terms, the Internet of Things or IoT as it is more commonly known refers to a network of devices connected through the internet. These smart interconnected devices are able to communicate between them (send/receive data). In regards to the healthcare industry, the IoT can help connect all sorts of medical equipment, as well as, smart wearables for faster and precise data collection. The technology has already been implemented and tested in various hospitals in the USA, promising to take the digital healthcare industry to the next level.
The use of IoT in the healthcare industry has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the industry. By interconnected the healthcare equipment, healthcare practitioners are in a better position to collect crucial patients’ data, enabling faster and more accurate diagnosis, and offering better control over treatment.
Healthcare devices like wearables have come out as the biggest potential market for the IoT. The segment has grown at such a rapid pace that today there’s a specific term Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) used to denote the segment. The IoMT is expected to become over a $150 billion market in the next five years.
Folio3 Digital Health is Your best IoT in Healthcare Partner
Folio3 is among the leading tech players among the few IoMT businesses that have dominated this segment of the healthcare industry since the early days. The company has been delivering innovative and progressive IoT solutions to hospitals and clinics, empowering them to scale more efficiently, while improving the quality of Software as a medical device services.
IoT healthcare solutions by Folio3 bridge the gap between the real and digital world to bring an entirely new and detailed experience for the healthcare practitioners. The company is already accredited to some of the most practical IoT applications such as Clinically, engineered to perfection by an expert development team. Today, the IoT applications from Folio3 are transforming the business processes, operational models, and network infrastructure for the healthcare industry.
To ensure the viability of applications, Folio3 has also partnered with leading hospitals and doctors to come up with end-to-end IoT solutions for the industry. The company covers the entire spectrum of IoT services including; consultation, development, and integration.
Some of the top IoT platforms used by Folio3 for the development of IoT applications include;
- IBM Watson IoT Services
- Amazon IoT Services
- Samsung’s SmartThings platform
- Google’s Nest platform
- Microsoft IoT Services
- iOS HomeKit platform
How is IoT Used in Healthcare Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic
The current global pandemic (Covid-19) has highlighted the importance of technology that can help remote connection and monitoring of patients by healthcare practitioners. In this regard, the Internet of Things (IoT) has come up as the most viable and crucial technology enabled the healthcare system to keep up with demanding challenges.
Here’s how IoT is helping the healthcare industry to address different stages of the Covid-19 pandemic;
- Given the highly contagious nature of the virus, there’s a crucial need for accurate and rapid diagnosis at the first stage of Covid-19. It is important because over 50% of Covid-19 carriers remain asymptomatic, however, these carriers can transmit the virus to other people rapidly. Thereby, it’s important to diagnose covid-19 at the early stages to stop the spread and initiate appropriate treatment. IoT devices with its inherent features to capture remote information have come out as an effective solution to collect data from patients. Smart temperature capturing devices have been used as early screening tools to create a central repository for Covid-19 carriers.
- The second phase of the virus comprises “Quarantine Time”. It’s an important period where the patients are put in isolation to avoid the spread of the virus to other people. During this time, healthcare practitioners can rely on IoT devices to monitor a patient’s health indicators remotely. IoT devices like healthcare wearables allow doctors and physicians to continue tracking the health performance of patients even when they are quarantined at home.
- There have been cases of covid-19 reinfection to recovered patients. The rates of covid-19 reinfection after the recovery phase is high in a certain country. This makes it important for healthcare practitioners to continue monitoring the symptoms in recovered patients, as well as, track strict compliance with social distancing to avoid reinfection cases. IoT devices like wearables and crowd monitoring can help the medical fraternity to ensure the appropriate implementation of Covid-19 precautionary measures.
How IoT Medical Devices are Changing Health Care Today?
Here are some ways IoT in the healthcare industry is paving way for better and faster healthcare services;
When it comes to patients’ care, there is always room for improvement even in the best of hospitals and leading doctors. Long waiting times, insufficient data availability, and long duration between visits are some of the challenges that continue to plague the healthcare industry across the world.
The fundamental need for IoT in healthcare is to eliminate the inefficiencies in the provision of healthcare services to patients. In this regard, the technology can be used in various manners to create streamlined workflow processes and systems for improved healthcare services. Medical wearables, inter-connected devices, and sensors are some IoT healthcare solutions that are meant to create more efficient processes in the healthcare industry. These inter-connected smart sensors are able to collect and send patient health information to healthcare practitioners in real-time, making it possible for early diagnosis and efficient monitoring of patients in the healthcare system.
IoT devices can be used by healthcare professionals to collect patients’ glucose levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital health information. All of the information collected by these devices is sent in real-time to the healthcare professional to ensure timely diagnosis and effective treatment of any medical emergency.
2. Medical Errors
Each year there are hundreds of thousands of deaths across the world due to preventable medical mistakes. This is an unfortunate truth of the medical industry, overwhelmed with the lack of resources and plagued with inefficient processes. While mistakes are inevitable in the medical industry, IoT in healthcare can certainly minimize the chances of errors and contribute to saving hundreds of thousands of lives lost to these preventable mistakes.
IoT healthcare wearables are just one example that can help medical practitioners to verify the identity of patients and avoid any costly mix-ups in treatment. These IoT healthcare wearables can also be used to collect crucial health information, like checking for allergies and other conditions. And since machines don’t make typo mistakes, IoT technology can certainly be a valuable tool to minimize preventable mistakes in the industry.
3. Supply Chain Management
Counterfeiting is a common problem in the healthcare industry. The problem doesn’t just cost the hospitals and clinics fortunes financially but also leads to medical emergencies and even death.
IoT sensors attached to the drugs and medical supplies are potentially the best solution to minimize the practice of counterfeiting in the medical industry. The IoT sensors would enable Hospitals and clinics to verify the inventory received for the medical supplies for authenticity.
Apart from counteracting the counterfeiting in the supplies, IoT in healthcare may also enhance the supply chain management as a whole. The smart sensors enable consistent tracking of the inventory, giving experts the details of the need to optimize the supply chain process.
4. Operational Costs
Maintaining healthcare operations is an expensive task. For healthcare institutions, the only way to increase revenues is to design efficient processes that may enable them to increase productivity without compromising the quality of healthcare services. IoT healthcare services enable hospitals and other healthcare institutes to automate the majority of the workflow processes, thus saving them time and increasing productivity.
With IoT devices, collecting, storing and transmission of data becomes much faster and easier as compared to manual operations. This not only improves efficiency but also lowers the overhead costs of maintaining an operational workforce for data management. Thus enabling the medical industry to increase productivity and revenues.
5. Disease Management
Millions of people across the world are affected by arthritis, obesity, cancer, and other chronic health conditions. For these people dealing with these chronic diseases, maintaining health is a daily battle to sustain life.
Smart IoT devices like a wearable that can take regular health information like heart rate, glucose level, temperature, cholesterol, and others gave patients with chronic conditions a better way to manage their diseases. These devices can be used by patients to keep a regular check on their medical conditions, as well as when the need arises, the records can directly be sent to healthcare practitioners for diagnosis and adequate treatment.
IoT devices are already improving the self-medical treatment amongst patients with chronic conditions. While these smart devices are also opening up new possibilities for healthcare practitioners to intervene at the right time and save precious lives by accessing real-time health information.
6. Healthcare in Rural Communities
Rural communities suffer most due to the lack of adequate healthcare systems within the vicinity. Often, rural communities have access to only basic medical facilities and very limited access to qualified medical specialists. IoT comes hand in these conditions, as the technology enables faster and easier communication between rural communities and medical experts.
Apart from communicating with the patients, doctors can also track the health information of patients in rural areas by using IoT healthcare devices. This combined with the telehealth system makes up a robust remote healthcare system to meet the medical requirements of rural communities.
10 IoT in Healthcare Examples and Case Studies
1. Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote Patient monitoring is one of the most widely used applications of IoT in the healthcare industry. As mentioned above, smart IoT devices including wearables are able to collect vital health information (heart rate, blood pressure, glucose level, and other) directly from patients and send it in real-time to the concerned medical practitioner. This eliminates the need for the patient to visit hospitals. We offer Cliniclive Telemedicine Software Free Demo for Hospitals and Patients.
The unique remote monitoring capability of IoT devices has proved to be vital in the recent time of global pandemic that necessitates remote monitoring of patients as a meant to suppress virus transmission. The technology is being widely implemented in hospitals across the USA and other places. This is helping the medical systems around the world to continue the delivery of qualified healthcare services to covid-19 patients while minimizing the risk of exposure of virus transmission to healthcare workers and the general public.
2. Glucose Monitoring
Diabetes is one of the most widely spread chronic disease affecting over 30 million people in the USA. Traditionally, keeping up with glucose monitoring has remained a challenge for patients. The traditional method of glucose monitoring isn’t just inconvenient but also requires manual record-keeping of the results taken at the exact time. Also, the glucose level fluctuates frequently, and thereby, it may be difficult to identify any medical emergency through manual testing of glucose levels.
IoT devices bring a fundamentally changed and better solution for consistent and automated monitoring of blood sugar levels in patients. With the smart IoT devices, patients are no more required to maintain manual records, rather the devices are able to send alerts to patients for any anomaly identified in the glucose levels.
While there are some challenges in the development of smart IoT devices for glucose monitoring including the size and electric consumption of the device, however, these are rather easy challenges that can be overcome to revolutionize the monitoring and treatment of diabetes.
3. Heart-Rate Monitoring
Just like glucose monitoring, heartrate monitoring is another challenging yet important task for patients with chronic heart conditions. Patients need to keep an automated check on the heart rate fluctuations to keep informed of any abnormal condition.
In this regard, IoT devices for heartrate monitoring come handy, enabling patients to keep up with their monitoring requirements, with automated alerts for any abnormality identified. While the ultra-preciseness of the results may be a topic of debate for IoT devices, nonetheless, the accuracy of these devices is over 90%.
4. Hand Hygiene Monitoring
IoT devices are being used in various hospitals and healthcare institutes to sensitize workers about hand sanitation periodically. The modern IoT devices are also able to give/receive instructions about best practices for sanitization to mitigate any specific exposure to a particular patient.
5. Depression Monitoring
IoT devices like ‘Mood-Aware” are helping companies to monitor depression symptoms amongst patients. The smart devices are able to collect and analyze crucial data like blood pressure and heart rate to map the patient’s mental state. Using advanced computer vision algorithms, these smart sensors are also able to track patients’ eye movements for better analysis of depression indicators.
6. Parkinson’s Disease Monitoring
By continuously symptomatic data for Parkinson’s diseases, IoT devices make it much easier for healthcare practitioners to track crucial data. These devices also enable patients to continue living life as normal at homes, without having to stay for long observation periods at hospitals.
7. Asthma Monitoring
Asthma or COPD attacks often come with no prior indication. Smart IoT devices can help inconsistent monitoring for the frequency of the attacks, as well as, to collect critical data like the environment of attack and others to help healthcare practitioners decode the cause of such attacks.
8. Ingestible sensors
Data collection from inside of the human body is perhaps a more challenging task. It’s not just challenging for doctors, but also for patients who have to stick the long probe in their digestive tract.
The smart IoT ingestible sensors make it possible for healthcare practitioners and patients alike to get the required information from within the body in a less invasive way. These sensors can be sued to get various types of data including PH levels, identify the source of internal bleeding, and others.
9. Connected Contact Lenses
Smart IoT contact lenses are another way to collect crucial healthcare data in a non-invasive way. Today, there are smart contact lenses that come with micro-cameras, enabling wearers to capture images with the blink of their eyes. Companies like Google have already patented technology for connected contact lenses.
10. Robotic Surgery
Today, internet-connected small robots have taken over the complex surgical procedures, which are difficult to be managed by hands. Robotic surgeries carried out by small IoT devices also minimize the size of the incision required to operate, making the entire surgical process less invasive with fast healing for patients.
While the IoT isn’t the ideal solution to all the problems and challenges in the healthcare industry still yet, the technology nonetheless has the potential to overcome all the challenges. The rapid advancement in the technology and wide-spread implementation by healthcare institutions will only lead to faster maturation of technology and developing a robust system capable of tackling all challenges in the healthcare industry.