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IoT Technologies in the Healthcare Industry: Possibilities, Use Cases, and Challenges
Smart technologies are being actively implemented in the healthcare industry on different levels.
14:59 21 May 2020
However, the Internet of Things (IoT) technology stands out as one of the most promising ones. By implementing IoT solutions, medical institutions will be able to enhance and improve the workflow of both medical specialists and providers of medical services. It helps to reduce the amount of administrative work and boosts the overall efficiency of business processes.
Why Are Healthcare and IoT Perfectly Compatible?
With no doubt, the healthcare industry is among the most promising fields of activity for implementing IoT solutions. The main idea here is collecting information about people’s health conditions with sensors and its further transmitting to healthcare providers or doctors. This approach offers a lot of possibilities, such as remote monitoring or early diagnosis.
IoMT or Internet of Medical Things
IoT is a network of interconnected smart devices; therefore, IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) is a network consisting of smart medical devices. It can include wearable devices, remote monitoring devices, drug trackers, and so on. IoMT resolve two core tasks:
- collecting medical data with the purpose of its further processing;
- tracking people’s health conditions/remote monitoring.
According to expert estimates, the revenue generated by IoMT will exceed $136 in 2021. It is one of the rapidly growing sectors in the healthcare industry.
Advantages of IoT in Healthcare
IoT offers a lot of benefits to both health professionals and patients. Let’s review briefly some of them.
- Tracking patients' health conditions. Smart wearable devices can recognize life-threatening conditions, such as asthma attacks, heart attacks, or failures. Once doing so, they automatically send signals to emergency services.
- Improving interaction of doctors and patients. Special software installed in hospitals let patients reach out to medical specialists much faster. Smart apps reduce the waiting time and optimize the whole process of interaction.
- Drug taking control. Smart IoT-based apps can control the drug dose and send precise information to a doctor, who estimate the effectiveness of the treatment. Also, a drug-control app can send reminders to a patient or his relatives (if he is disabled).
- Routine tasks automation. Administrative work in healthcare takes much time. IoT-based software helps automate many routine processes and complete them faster and with higher accuracy. For example, it copes with calculating statistic data, making metric and diagrams better than humans. Also, it helps minimize any mistakes caused by the human factor.
- Prevention and personalized approach. Chronic diseases are one of the most common causes of people’s death. IoT solutions can provide continuous monitoring of patients from risk groups. Besides, some smart devices can track minor changes in a person's state of health and inform a doctor about them before they turned into a chronic condition.
Pitfalls in Medical IoT Implementation
IoMT opens new horizons in different sectors of the healthcare industry: diagnostics, monitoring, prevention, administration, and so on. However, when implementing IoT solutions, one can face certain challenges. Here are the main potential problems to consider.
- Security. Healthcare is the type of industry, which deals with a lot of sensitive data. The problem of unsanctioned data exposure is associated with major problems for all the participants. That is why complying with CCPA and GDPR standards of data protection is crucial.
- Integration of protocols. The problem is that medical IoT systems often include many devices, which have different protocols. For the effective functioning of the system, you need to integrate these protocols. Common protocols for healthcare apps are HIPAA and HITECH.
- Data overload. On the plus side, IoT apps can process huge volumes of data at a high speed. On the minus side, there is a problem of data overload, which, in turn, reduced the accuracy.
IoT in Healthcare: Use Cases
Experts believe that the world’s IoT in healthcare can generate over $160 billion in 2024. Logically enough, major players, such as Google and Apple are readily investing in IoT projects. We’ll review just three use cases of IoT in healthcare.
- HIMS or Hospital Information Management Systems. As the name supposes, such a system helps manage information on a hospital level. It stores and automatically processes a lot of information, such as personal data, medical reports, appointments, drugs, and so on. Examples of HIMS apps are eVisit, eHospital, MyNapier, and others.
Information management system (Source: Dribble)
- EHR or Electronic Healthcare Records Systems. More and more hospitals and medical centers order EHR development because of the convenience and effectiveness of these systems. They provide instant access to medical reports and other types of data (test results, disease history, etc.) The access is provided on several levels to authorized users only.
Hospital mobile app (Source: Dribble)
- Mobile Healthcare a.k.a. mHealth apps. There are a lot of them available for both Android and iOS users. Some of them are for emergency use - they help contact emergency services in critical situations. Others are for regular use – they help collect data about the health condition, count calories, measure physical activity, and so on.
Of course, the sphere of application of medical IoT solutions is much broader than the described cases. There are special apps for medical employees, solutions for personalized medical treatment, smart wearable devices, and others.
Vitaly Kuprenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad. It’s a mobile and web app development company in Ukraine. He enjoys telling about tech innovations and digital ways to boost businesses.