The Role of IoT in Healthcare: Applications and Implementation
Healthcare space is filling up fast with revolutionary technologies. Growing healthcare challenges, from the rise in chronic diseases to the ageing global population, limit the capabilities of hospitals, medical practitioners, and service providers to deliver quality healthcare services in order to improve patient outcomes.
These challenges have led them to the doors of advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics. Among these, IoT has gained maximum attention of healthcare service providers.
According to a report by Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprises subsidiary, the healthcare industry is the third most advanced in IoT implementation.
Understanding the Role of IoT in Healthcare Ecosystem
Healthcare challenges have created new requirements for healthcare providers to successfully deliver high quality healthcare services. IoT with its set of benefits such as enabling real-time monitoring, providing a more mature and effective solution to collect patient data, and tracking the activities of patients and staff meet the new requirements such as.
- Get a better understanding of patient’s medical condition in a series of “phases” and complex care needs
- Advanced health system focused on modern treatment approach and healthcare delivery system design
- Clinical information system to provide decision support
- A well-structured ongoing care program designed by a multidisciplinary team
IoT in healthcare is helpful at different phases of patient and healthcare system interaction. The first phase begins when the patient make their call to the hospital for booking appointments or directly visiting the hospital in case of emergencies.
From then on, real-time monitoring of patient’s condition to intelligent medical devices connected to a smartphone application, healthcare providers can get required health data that a physician can use to analyze the patient’s condition and plan better treatment.
Take a look at how it works.
In the figure, you can find RFID card assigned to a patient, wearable technology, and Electronic Health Records (EHR) provides data that is collected and stored on database management systems and then transferred to a physician through a desktop manager on their device. They can use this data for multiple purposes, from research to creating treatment approaches.
The Applications of Internet of Things in Healthcare
Healthcare providers can broadly use the IoT data collected from the app for the following purposes:
- Follow good clinical practices, varying from clinical record-keeping to sharing relevant information with the multidisciplinary team.
- Pervasive monitoring: real-time, multi-stream integration
- Enable chronic patients a platform to track, monitor, and quantify their health
- Make available data for health risk assessment
- Support continuity of care for chronic patients
- Research Studies
- Determining clinical trial efficiency
- Performance monitoring
- Comparing treatment effects
- Evaluating novel therapeutics
- Measuring functional recovery in patients
- Evaluate staffing patterns and determine the composition
- Resource Utilization
- Determine service metrics
- Manage medication usage
- Evaluate diagnostic tests and procedure performed
- Quality Assessments
- Patient outcome
- Patient readmission rate
- Patient satisfaction surveys
- Hospital quality measures
The Internet of Things in healthcare has brought significant developments in chronic patient care management and caregiver support that have ushered a new era of proactive healthcare delivery.
There are several proven IoT use cases in healthcare, from wearable technology to advanced analytics that has produced exciting results in chronic disease management.
Implementation of IoT in the Healthcare Ecosystem
An effective care model demands IoT applications to be applied to various diseases in different healthcare settings. By implementing IoT in healthcare solutions, healthcare providers get invaluable data, which provide insight into the symptoms and pattern of the disease, while enabling remote care.
However, the implementation of IoT in Healthcare is still a challenge. Many healthcare providers are either not ready for the investment in the Internet of Things or do not have the required healthcare infrastructure that supports IoT implementation.
And some of them are not fully confident about the implementation process. We have tried to answer a few questions so that they can take actionable measures with confidence.
Is IoT effective in addressing challenges faced by healthcare providers?
The Internet of things plays a critical role in mitigating healthcare challenges. Healthcare solutions should not be generic, as each patient has different physical and mental built. By using IoT in care-setting environment, healthcare providers can offer personalized solutions based on the lifestyle and medical history of the patient for effective treatment.
The article, The Internet of Things in the healthcare industry, published in Deloitte, reveals that “preventable readmissions cost the health care system approximately $17.5 billion annually.” Remote patient monitoring, a crucial benefit of IoT in healthcare, can “save up to $36 billion globally over the next five years,” mentioned in the same article.
In which segment of healthcare, IoT can be applied?
Internet of Things technology has a massive potential to transform the healthcare industry. IoT applications in healthcare have unique benefits for patients, physicians, caregivers, and hospital and insurance companies. Below you can see the categorization.
- IoT for patients: Today, chronic patients seek more information to prevent, manage, and control the disease. Using wearables such as fitness brands and wireless connected devices, patients can track their physical activity and make a decision that improves their health behavior.
- IoT for physicians: Physicians can access the data collected from the wearables and other medical devices to keep track of patient’s health in the context of identification of best treatment process for the patient, adherence to treatment plans, and achieve the expected outcome.
- IoT for healthcare providers: IoT sensors can be installed to a number of medical equipment such as wheelchairs, defibrillators, nebulizers, oxygen pumps, and other monitoring equipment, which can be used for effective asset management.
- IoT for healthcare insurers: Data captured from monitoring equipment can be used to detect fraud claims and maintain transparency between patients and healthcare insurance companies.
IoT-captured data can be applied to a range of operation processes and patients, which can be used to check the underlying conditions and make the right decision. At which section of your healthcare process, IoT can be implemented is your decision, and that should depend on what kind of data you need to improve patient outcomes.
What medical devices can be connected using the healthcare IoT solution?
IoT medical device integration includes a range of intelligent connected devices, which can be used to monitor the health of patients and raise the alarm before the onset of any disease. In the healthcare ecosystem, the Internet of Things can be applied to the following:
- Wearables to monitor the health condition of chronic patients, take readings, observe patterns, and send an alert. This data can be used for diagnosis, improve treatment, and enhance customer service.
- Active passive labels to be worn by the patient, caregiver, and equipment integrated to the ID card of the equipment, hospital staff, and patient ID to reduce admission time and facilitate better management of the resources.
- Medical devices to track the usage of the equipment for each patient and compare the data to gain insight and check their status.
These wearables, labels integrated with real-time location tracking system can help healthcare providers do the needful within time.
Precisely what type of data can be collected?
Multiple types of data that can be collected through IoT. Here you can take a look at the type of health data.
This is a broader picture of IoT data. You can develop a data model for your application of IoT in Healthcare by focusing on the dynamics of your healthcare environment to improve the quality of care for patients.
Where is the medical data collected from the IoT gateways stored?
IoT data collected from the devices is stored in the on-premise servers or cloud servers. You can discuss the type of servers you require with your IoT app development company.
You can store the data in the SQL database or the NoSQL database, depending on the requirement.
What about the security of the IoT systems?
Cybersecurity is one of the biggest IoT challenges, but with the right measures, security concerns and issues could be addressed. Ensuring end-to-end security for IoT devices and applications in context with data should be taken care of during the application design and development phase. While building an application, the solution provider must consider security measures required for sensors and applications both. Besides, regular security updates and patches should be part of the process.
How cost-effective it is to implement IoT healthcare solutions?
The bottom line of IoT in healthcare is to assure healthier patients, empowered healthcare providers, and cost-saving for both. With a reliable technology partner, you can build a cost-effective IoT sensor network.
There are certain fundamentals to cost efficiency, which can be applied in IoT app development for healthcare as well, such as reduced overspending, the well-defined role of sensors and its capabilities, and send and receive data when necessary. For doing all this, you need to create an effective IoT app development strategy and application architecture in collaboration with your technology partner.
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