Connected Healthcare: How IoT Can Tackle Healthcare Challenges
There is a broad spectrum of “things” that the industry uses. If connected to the Internet, these things can collect valuable information to help healthcare providers improve the quality of services and reduce cost.
In each of the fields of healthcare, a variety of instruments are used, and a range of processes are followed that all become a jumble of hope for patients and sometimes for physicians too.
This element of “hope” is mostly based on assumption, but the data collected using the concept of the Internet of Things can successfully transform hope into belief and assumptions into fact.
With the insight generated from the medical “things”, they can combat complex challenges that plague the healthcare sector, such as ageing population, the rise of chronic diseases, increased healthcare cost, and inaccessibility of good healthcare services to the underprivileged.
At the moment, improving healthcare access has numerous options available, ranging from the use of mobile clinics to teaming up with retail clinics.
But when it comes to exploring the possibilities of better healthcare at a reduced cost, the reality is still very dark. Although, emerging technologies like IoT bring the ray of hope, enabling healthcare providers to offer improved services at a low cost.
Let’s take a look at the challenges that healthcare service providers are struggling with before we jump into the solutions provided by the connected healthcare.
Challenges that Impede Healthcare Industry’s Progress
From diagnosis to caregiving, providing better services is a challenge. Here are 3 crucial factors that are impeding the healthcare provider to provide better services.
Healthcare services are costlier than ever
US healthcare cost hit more than $10,000 a year per person in 2016.
Data collected in a recent national poll reveals that 44% of Americans didn’t go to the doctor because of financial concerns in 2016.
Around 40% said they skipped a recommended medical test or treatment.
“There have been so many changes in the health care landscape in the United States that this news is not entirely surprising,” says Cleveland Clinic president and CEO Tom Mihaljevic.
Number of chronic diseases are on rise
If we go by the figures of World Health Organization (WHO), healthcare industry seems in despair. According to the WHO report, in 2016, an estimated 41 million deaths occurred due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), accounting for 71% of the overall total of 57 million deaths.
Noncommunicable diseases are chronic, long duration diseases and show less progression that forms four types: Cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
Global population is ageing
13% of the total world population is aged 60 or above, according to the UN report.
These diseases are not only killing people throughout the globe but also putting pressure on working people to look after ill relatives. Recently, an article published on BBC discusses how around 600 people a day leave their jobs because of the demands of being a carer.
In the article, Helen Walker, the charity’s head reveals that 15% of the working population is now working and caring. According to her, this is happening because many employers do not provide flexibility over working hours, and so people are choosing to leave their jobs.
This story highlights one of the most critical impacts of healthcare sector that if not improved significantly, it will exhaust the resources of ill and healthy people both and in line will build pressure on the economy of the country too.
How Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare Can Help
Healthcare IoT is not a new phenomenon. Many hospitals are already using Internet of Things for a number of applications ranging from medical device integration to smart sensors. The new paradigm, Internet of Things, allows hospitals and medical centers to function more competently in numerous ways, such as:
The IoT can Help to Reduce Healthcare Cost
The rising cost of Healthcare is a matter of constant worry among patients. It is due to this reason, many people either ignore health issues at an early stage or do not take post-hospitalization care seriously. This behavior totally impacts the patient outcomes, which hospitals can tackle through the following ways:
Optimize Machine Utilization: Through creating a connected healthcare ecosystem, hospitals can optimize machine utilization. Healthcare providers can use connected medical instruments to the IoT application and enable the medical staff to track inventory and use instruments judiciously.
Before the surgery, staff can learn about the medical history of the patients and post-surgery, through numerous IoT sensors, they can collect, process, and transmit the data to prevent post-surgical complications.
Proactively Replenish Supplies: IoT in healthcare can make tracking of medical instruments and staff members much easier, while also providing visibility into the system so that healthcare providers can know where they are lacking and what measures they need to take to improve the system.
Simplify Patient Monitoring: Healthcare providers can connect surgical instruments and devices with the video output to avail the critical details. These records can be used for educational purposes which could prove more effective than traditional healthcare learning system.
Smart IoT application development solutions can help healthcare providers achieve these results. The applications can provide them clear visibility into the processes and help gain valuable insight into the system.
IoT can Improve Healthcare Accessibility to Tackle the Rise of Chronic Illness
IoT in healthcare has the potential to improve healthcare accessibility, which can help hospitals and patients tackle the rise of chronic illness and also reduce the operational cost of doing so.
Effective utilization of telehealth
Nowadays, telehealth is not only limited to the remote diagnosis and treatment but with IoT, all the technologies and tactics can be connected to each other to gain valuable insight.
IoT can connect Smart medical devices, tablets, phones, wireless sensors to healthcare professionals, and through an IoT application, professionals can access the crucial information required to provide a better healthcare solution. Some practical applications are:
- Live Streaming: Act as a substitute for in-person doctor’s appointment that can save the time of both doctor and patients.
- Store-and-forward imaging: Valid, recorded health history including videos, x-rays, and photos which doctors can assess to understand the condition of the patients.
- Remote Patient Diagnostics: Wearable devices worn by the patients can be connected to Smartphone application that can collect medical data that physicians can use to guide the patient during a medical emergency. According to Technavio market research analysis, the estimated CAGR of remote patient monitoring (RPM) is 16% during 2018-2022.
Healthcare IoT can Help in Elder Medical Care
With better healthcare services, the life expectancy of people is increasing. To provide consistent healthcare services to the aging population that is less costly, so that aged people do not become a burden for the caregivers, hospitals need to come up with strategic ways.
IoT device for Predicting Falls
According to data published by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3,00,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fracture every and 95% of the fractures are caused by falls.
Researchers in Illinois have found that it is possible to predict falls through a wearable device with a connected accelerometer.
Healthcare providers can associate with experience IoT app development companies to come up with Smartphone apps that could process the data and predict the fall risks while also providing valuable information to the doctors.
Ensure Medical Adherence
Uniquely designed elder medical care IoT applications can provide data to the medical staff that whether the patient is taking the medication. The applications can help both patients and doctors in achieving better outcome.
Hospitals can associate with a reliable IoT application development company with experience in IoT healthcare segment so that they can come up with applications that could help them enhance medical adherence among patients.
Improve Elder Care Experiences
IoT in healthcare can improve elder care experience by enabling Healthcare providers to use data-collecting devices to track the patient vitals and alter the doctors and relatives under unusual circumstances.
IoT Application Development Companies to Support Healthcare Providers
Healthcare providers and IoT application development companies can collaborate with each other to develop Smartphone applications that can strategically improve healthcare.
According to the P&S Market Research report, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of healthcare IoT industry is 37.6% from 2015 to 2020. The data reveals a win-win situation for both the industries, although initial investment may look high. But in long-run, the collaboration can improve the overall functioning of the healthcare industry and enhance patient satisfaction.