According to a Grand View Research report, the global IoT in healthcare market size is projected to reach USD 534.3 billion by 2025. The amount of active Internet of Things (IoT) startups has grown to over 1,200, according to IoT Analytics.
The IoT trend is continuing to grow in popularity, gaining wide adoption in the healthcare industry and improving healthcare service delivery.
Read this article to learn about the fullest range of IoT application cases in the healthcare industry, the challenges and opportunities of its adoption by medical institutions. You may also find inspiration for building your own IoT-driven Healthtech solution from taking a closer look at the pain points of healthcare providers that others still fail to cover.
The Internet of Things (IoT) concept describes a virtual network of interconnected and interoperable devices — from home supplies to medical equipment. These devices are equipped with embedded sensors, radars, and software that enable data exchange between things and trigger well-coordinated concerted responses for events in shared environments.
Combined with such advanced technologies as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Big Data, Cloud Computing, and 5G, the IoT drives revolution in the Healthcare Industry step-by-step. All IoT privileges for Healthcare lie in its broad real-time data collection and processing abilities.
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) brings patient monitoring to new heights. It opens up new possibilities for advanced diagnostic, control of emergency conditions, accurate health-related predictions, and overall remote patient care.
Coronacrisis has fastened IoT adoption through Healthcare institutions. Due to quarantine, remote patient care solutions became vital, and medical research aimed to find measures to fight the pandemic on the cross-governmental level. Yet, in 2020, 29 % of healthcare respondents in the United States stated that their organization planned to implement medical equipment for patient monitoring within the next two years, Statista shows.
IoMT is equally used for in-establishment and remote patient care purposes. The hospitals that have gradually adopted a ‘smart healthcare’ approach already have ‘smart beds’ and ‘smart wheelchairs’ in their patient-care environments. Smart medical beds and wheelchairs are equipped with sensors and other tools that help to provide some level of patient care even with no medical personnel around. Depending on the model, they have extensive functionality that includes:
IoT also supports telemedicine - a remote patient care solution that gains popularity more and more each year. Telemedicine is the meaning of remote communication between caregivers and patients through software applications. These applications enable remote doctor consultations and transfer meaningful medical data received from wearable devices (such as heart rate and blood pressure or glucose monitors), or even ingestible sensors that patients should swallow to get data from their insides. All this information provides realistic insights into the state of a patient’s health and the success of the applied treatment plan.
IoT technology is also used in conjunction with robotic medical devices that serve after-surgery patients’ recovery. Sensors of the medical robotic device collect and structure data around the patient’s range of motion during physiotherapy exercises, providing a doctor with an overview of their recovery progress.
Smart wearable devices, both from in-establishment patient care environments and those for remote patient care, can make their own decisions and take appropriate actions based on data analysis. It can be as simple as sending notifications to medical representatives on changes in patient condition or as heroic as calling an emergency before a heart stroke happens.
IoT devices for remote patient care enable:
Remote patient care has been a hot topic in the healthcare sector long before COVID-19 happened. Patients in rural areas needed to go to the city centers to visit a clinic that was already overcrowded with local patients. Scheduling a visit to a doctor is also a complicated task due to understaffing. It’s a significant issue for patients with chronic diseases like diabetes that require constant monitoring and checking.
Telemedicine became a one-size-fits-all solution for these problems. Still, it was far from perfect before the introduction of IoT technology. Doctors were limited in their diagnostic abilities when relying only on subjective patient answers about their well-being during voice and video meetings.
Wearable devices encouraged the creation of many IoT applications in healthcare industry that serve remote patient monitoring. IoT devices that patients wear on their bodies send medical data to matching mobile apps where it is structured in a suitable way for further analysis by a doctor. If IoT apps use AI and deep learning technology, they can process and interpret this data with no outside input and take actions in the form of user notifications or direct independent interactions with healthcare providers.
Remote patient monitoring is extremely helpful in work with patients that have chronic conditions and seniors. Data received from their wearable devices delivers actionable insights that help increase the overall life longevity of these patients under constant monitoring.
Heart-rate monitoring is a widespread function of IoT devices. It’s featured not only for medical devices but also such casual wearable accessories as smartwatches. However, dealing with cardiac patients requires the highest possible level of monitoring accuracy that not all smartwatches can satisfy, so these patients need to use special cardio monitors. IoT devices for heart-rate monitoring under conditions of remote patient care are still much smaller than machines used in healthcare facilities. These wearable monitors don’t limit patients’ movement and enable receiving data continuously that helps prevent heart strokes or ensure emergency intervention before it happens.
IoT technology completely transforms the way healthcare services are given and received. It helps solve old industry problems with understaffing and continuous patient monitoring by automating important patient care processes. Doctors and patients equally benefit from IoT. Here’re three key advantages that go with its implementation.
A major benefit of IoT devices used in hospitals is their ability for predictive self-maintenance. Magnetic resonance imagers or X-ray machines are very expensive. IoT sensors can catch the issue before it arises into a serious problem and send notifications to technicians, so they can repair it in time and keep medical equipment running.
Remote patient monitoring reduces costs for patient care by eliminating the need for doctor visits and staying in stationary medical facilities.
The use of IoT in the healthcare industry leads to maximized treatment and high patient satisfaction. IoT devices can process and transfer real-time medical data constantly while the patient stays in the comfortable environment of their home. Monitoring data received from modern IoT devices are highly accurate. It helps to manage and adjust treatment to improve a patient’s health condition faster. AI-driven IoT devices connected to healthcare platforms can also offer personalized recommendations based on patients’ data received from sensors and backed by shared medical big data analytics.
Both IoT medical devices and applications have intuitive interfaces so doctors and patients can interact with technologies and each other smoothly. Wearable devices are small and designed as stylish accessories, so people get used to them fast as if they always were an organic part of their life.
It seems like IoT and Healthcare are a perfect match, but there are still some troubles in paradise. IoT devices generate and transfer more data than healthcare representatives have ever dealt with. It creates as many challenges as opportunities.
The healthcare industry is regulated with strict security compliance requirements. IoT devices can be hacked. Moreover, considering their connectivity, the whole IoT network may be impacted by this fraudulent act. Hackers can steal or even fake patients’ data so monitoring insights couldn’t be trusted or used for treatment anymore.
Healthcare organizations try to eliminate this risk by creating private IoT networks that can be accessed only by authorized devices. These private IoT networks are also guarded with best data management practices, including encryption of healthcare records and strong security protocols that ensure regulatory compliance.
Despite all the benefits of remote patient care, it's hard to understand all costs and fees under these services for both patients and healthcare practitioners. Whether remote patient care is a full-time job or only a part of stationary doctor responsibilities, there is no defined business model under these services.
It’s not such a lucrative option for the patients being charged by ‘the unit per patient per year’ model, as their medical cases may not sexpectthis long-term recovery. These patients are more willing to pay per use if they have this option.
The telemedicine adoption rate grows rapidly, leaving blind spots in service models. Thus, governments can’t catch up with this pace to form regulations for remote patient care pricing policies.
User data is the world’s new valuable currency that turns all the entities that can access data pools into ‘gold diggers.’ On the one hand, medical companies make a lot of efforts to strengthen IoT devices’ and applications’ security (including encryption of data in a transfer that is exceptionally important when dealing with connected IoT environments).
These measures help to prevent data breaches and faking. On the other hand, companies encourage patients to willingly give them access to valuable data in exchange for minor free services or through manipulation, putting points related to vulnerable data access and processing in the small font on the bottom of the ‘long-to-read’ user agreement.
The Internet of things in the medical field interconnects devices and services, messing up with providers’ parties' responsibilities and data ownership. IoT devices are often rented. Data received during their use is stored in the cloud and processed by caregivers and, to some extent, by other participants of the public or private IoT network. Ironically, data ownership and control issues are mostly provoked by IoT’s key advantageous principle of connectivity.
IoT technology makes healthcare services more accessible for patients with various health conditions through telemedicine and remote patient monitoring. Smart wearable devices generate and exchange medical data on a real-time basis. They do it continuously. It improves preventive healthcare activities and promotes life span increase.
IoT devices improved the approach and accuracy of patient monitoring, both stationary and remotely. Hospital staff needs to share correct patient vital signals data when changing their shifts. Real-time reports received from IoT devices help to deal with this task perfectly.
Medical facilities supplies can be equipped with IoT sensors for helping patients monitor concerning their external environments. Also, IoT devices can help diagnose patients’ ‘internal environments’ as ingestible sensors can be used to monitor the digestive system.
IoT devices monitor and predict changes in patient health conditions and track their own serviceability and send alerts to the technicians the same way they notify patient’s caregivers about emergencies. This functionality saves a lot of costs for critical repairs and possible downtimes.
The Internet of things in healthcare is mostly used for remote patient monitoring and diagnosis. Wearable IoT devices brought much morpatientss’ trust telehealth solutions as now remote consultation with doctors is supported by highly accurate health condition data.
Seniors and patients with chronic health conditions are now able to receive continuously adjusting medical care based on monitoring results and increase their overall life span.
The use of IoT in the healthcare industry helps to improve the life- and treatment quality of patients with diabetes. The main concern of a person with diabetes is controlling the blood glucose parameter to avoid abnormalities in glucose boundaries. IoT-based continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMs) monitor the glucose level in the user’s blood. The device is connected to an insulin pump with an automated suspension of insulin infusion. IoT-based CGMs ensure continuous autonomous glucose monitoring and reporting results to a doctor. It's a much better solution than periodic stationary checkups, as even short fluctuations in glucose level can trigger complications.
It has always been hard to track and analyze depression symptoms in a complex way as there are too many factors of mood swings that can be interpreted falsely or left underrated. IoT devices made it possible to monitor and record mood changes through several different channels. It’s one of the most revolutionary uses of IoT in healthcare.
Some of those devices have optical vision, image recognition, and sentiment analysis features, so these IoT devices and applications mostly analyze facial expressions to make some conclusions. They can be interconnected with more traditional IoMT sensors to compare visual data with such indicators as blood pressure or hormone level per given moment and provide patients' therapists with more complex data for further diagnosis.
The usage of IoT in the health sector helps to solve problems with health data accuracy and continuous monitoring and control of patients with chronic conditions. IoT devices turned remote patient care into a truly effective and preferable model of medical care service.
The Internet of things in healthcare is not a standalone technological solution. Having access to Big Data exchanged through connected networks and applying AI and Machine learning algorithms for its deep analysis, IoT devices can act like self-sufficient health care assistants. They can make their own informed decisions about exercising and treatment plan corrections, about preventive measures in case of unwanted fluctuations in key indicators.
Despite all the success IoT won in the healthcare industry, there still are places for improvement. IoT deals with a huge pool of sensitive data, so IoT-based software developers should pay more and more attention to security measures. The benefits of IoT application in healthcare service delivery are so evident and meaningful that we can say that this trendy technology is here to stay and evolve the whole industry.
If you’re one of the pioneers of the internet of things and healthcare software development and looking for an experienced and reliable tech partner to bring your vision to life, feel free to contact Dataxdev.
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