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IoT in Healthcare: Are We Witnessing a New Revolution?

IoT Today – When humanity entered the new era of relative welfare for everyone, better health and longer lives of people brought new challenges for the healthcare industry. When chronic diseases do not kill you, and you can easily live through your 100th anniversary, healthcare providers should adapt their ways of monitoring your health so that they will not be overwhelmed with the amount of your century-long data.

One of the possible answers to the new challenges has been the implementation of the Internet of Things for healthcare, or the Internet of Medical Things.

Healthcare is such a vast ecosystem, that the applications of the IoT in healthcare seem to be endless: from remote monitoring and personal healthcare to smart sensors and medical device integration, as well as the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare insurance, RTHS, healthcare building facilities, robotics, smart pills, and even treatments of diseases. It has the potential to not only keep patients safe and healthy but to improve how physicians deliver care as well.

So far, the IoT in healthcare is mainly focused on remote monitoring and telemonitoring and on tracking, monitoring and maintenance of assets.

The cornerstone of it is, therefore, electronic health records (EHR), the concept of computerized health records which emerged already in the 1980s, but became commonplace only in recent years. The use of EMR promises to advance coordination of medical care, facilitate interaction with patients and families and reduce disparities in healthcare improving its efficiency. This has become the central idea of telehealth — a pool of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services.

Connected medical devices

Wearable devices and home health monitoring devices assisting patients is a common thing now. Such healthcare devices as insulin pumps, defibrillators, scales, CPAP machines, cardiac monitoring devices, and oxygen tanks are now connected in the IoT to ensure remote monitoring, providing patients and their caregiver’s valuable real-time information.

Wearable devices, for example, can immediately send out alerts for emergency medical help. Fitness bands, even though marketed as “wellness solutions” rather than medical devices, can take vital data from the body throughout the day and transmit wirelessly to computers, smartphones or tablets.

Moreover, some medical device manufacturers already offer a cloud-based platform that enables wireless transfer, storage, and display of clinical data. This platform provides for interoperability with a variety of medical devices and apps and generates an enormous amount of clinical data which would help the healthcare industry in many research.

Internet of Things (IoT)-based medical devices can get patients out of the hospital more quickly, or keep them out altogether, and save organizations money. On the other hand, interconnectivity can provide for easy data collection, asset management, OTA updates, and device remote control and monitoring.

Smart hospital

Continuing the line of other “smart” facilities, “smart hospitals” constitute hospitals of a new type that can optimize, redesign or build new clinical processes and management systems thanks to digitized networking infrastructure of interconnected assets. Smart hospitals rely on optimized and automated processes, built on the Internet of Things and on the big data revolution which combines connected devices with cloud computing, big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

The smart hospital involves three essential layers — data, insight, and access. Data is being collected on a daily basis, to be fed to analytics or machine learning software to derive a “smart” insight. It is this new ability to provide a valuable insight that makes a hospital a step further from being just digital, making it truly smart. This insight must be accessible to any potential user — a doctor, a nurse, facilities personnel or any other stakeholder, through an interface including a desktop or a mobile device, so that they could make critical decisions faster.

There are three areas that any smart hospital addresses — operations, clinical tasks and patient centricity.

Conclusion

Integrating IoT features into medical devices shall transform the healthcare service, bringing especially high value for the elderly, patients with chronic conditions, and those requiring constant supervision. According to some estimates, spending on the IoT solutions in healthcare will reach $1 trillion by 2025 and, hopefully, will provide everyone with personalized, accessible, and up-to-the-point healthcare services. By 2019, 87% of #healthcare organizations will have adopted IoT technology.

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