The Internet of Things (IoT) has permeated nearly every industry and healthcare is the latest on the list.
IoT has made many healthcare advancements possible, either by paving the way for innovation or freeing essential workers from repetitive tasks. It has empowered doctors to deliver unparalleled service and care to their patients. Similarly, IoT in healthcare enables patients to nurture trust and satisfaction with their doctors.
The impacts of IoT healthcare solutions extend beyond the two players in the doctor-patient dynamic. It provides support to families in coping, organises complex hospital systems and benefits insurance companies with ties to hospital systems.
The Benefits of IoT in Healthcare
IoT companies have opened up immense opportunities on all fronts of healthcare operations, from patient-facing to back-end data management. Additionally, the amounts of data generated through these products, and smart healthcare solutions in general, are goldmines of business insights that make processes faster and more efficient. The benefits of IoT in healthcare include:
- Simultaneous reporting and monitoring
Remote patient monitoring systems positively influence the quality of care, support and assurance and better universal access to healthcare across borders. It is primarily used to move healthcare out of traditional hospital settings, allowing doctors to report on and monitor patients even without face-to-face interactions. This improves doctor response times to emergencies and enables quicker diagnoses and prescriptions.
- Healthcare automation
In hospital setups, time is gold and so is information. Healthcare automation frees essential workers from menial and repetitive tasks by automating back-end processes. This streamlined setup allows a better flow of information, which in turn mobilises higher-value care and procedures. Apart from pulling up the necessary information at the right time for quick diagnoses, the use of an automated digital healthcare solution enables informed decisions based on well-organised patient records.
- Remote medical assistance
Healthcare operations across the world are struggling to keep up with the inflow of patients, especially in the time of a global pandemic. Many patients undergo situations where location, lack of knowledge and budget constrict the level of healthcare they can afford in the time of an emergency. Healthcare IoT solutions enable remote medical assistance without the physical presence of doctors and traditional medical setups. This setup is also beneficial for doctors, who no longer need to move from hospital to clinic to see patients; they can cater to more patients from a single location.
- Data assortment and analysis
IoT-based healthcare systems can help simplify the assortment and analysis of patient and hospital data. This is especially efficient in tracking healthcare trends on the whole. On an individual level, healthcare IoT applications can consolidate past patient data, allowing for better analysis based on past illnesses and tracking of patterns over time.
- Preventive healthcare
Access to real-time data and consolidated patient history will revolutionise preventive healthcare, gradually turning the focus from cure to prevention. The impact of IoT in healthcare for prevention also extends to healthy individuals who might be genetically inclined to be affected by certain illnesses and disorders.
The Challenges of IoT in Healthcare
Since IoT is still in its nascent stages, there are significant IoT healthcare challenges to overcome in order to reap the full benefits of the technology.
- Data security
Medical IoT devices are revolutionary in monitoring patients while lowering costs. However, the increase in IoT healthcare devices has also been matched by insufficient controls over access and a wider attack range for cybercriminals to steal personal and Protected Health Information (PHI). Additionally, the lack of systematic network segmentation jeopardises the privacy of data across global wings even if there is an attack on one wing.
- Integration of protocols
In emergencies, all well-planned protocols and procedures take a backseat in the face of trying to save a life. Security tends to be an add-on feature in many medical devices as well, which increases the chances of human error. The integration of protocols in IoT healthcare solutions help to systematise processes while also making emergency responses more efficient. However, IoT-enabled medical devices are yet to reach that stage.
- Data overload and accuracy
Current IoT healthcare systems aren’t well-equipped to sustain the massive amount of personal information and Protected Health Information (PHI). Data currently flows in from wearables, monitors, sensors and other remote medical devices. The data deluge is also proving problematic when it comes to analytics because healthcare providers and professionals are unsure about how to use data dumps for accurate insights without flouting privacy regulations.
IoT Trends in Healthcare
As a testament to the benefits of IoT in healthcare, the IoT healthcare market is set to reach USD534 billion by 2025. This shows how technology is changing the face of medical care in previously unimaginable ways.
Remote patient monitoring is increasingly being used by healthcare providers to eliminate the need for multiple visits to the doctor.
Wearable medical devices are also on the rise in order to give patients more autonomy over their healthcare without direct doctor contact. These devices also automate regular tests and checkups for vital signs such as blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose, reducing the need for lab tests to emergencies only.
Overall, IoT healthcare solutions largely cater to hospitals, clinics and surgical centres because they see the highest inflow of patients. However, research organisations, government bodies and diagnostic laboratories also benefit from smart IoT solutions to either automate repetitive processes or digitise doctor-patient interactions.
Despite a few IoT healthcare challenges, the growing market for IoT healthcare solutions speaks for the possibility afforded by connected sensors, machinery and smart devices to radically change the healthcare industry in unforeseen ways. Successful outcomes, quicker diagnoses and better patient experiences will continue to fuel the development of IoT technologies well into the healthcare industry’s future
Sarah Johnson is a technical content writer. She is passionate about advanced technologies and continuously works towards creating impactful content.