IoT in Healthcare – Connected Devices, Telemedicine and Remote Monitoring
IoT or Internet of Things is all about expanding the ability of the internet beyond computers and smartphones. It has transformed into a system that integrates the internet, digital machines, and devices with specialised identifiers for functions across multiple industries.
IoT has revolutionised the realm of healthcare by providing continuous health monitoring services. With IoT in the healthcare market, patients do not have to depend solely on hospital visits for understanding the status of their health conditions. They can go for remote medical treatments and consultations effortlessly. Physicians are able to offer superior quality healthcare through IoT as they can continuously monitor the progress of their patients’ health.
IoT-Enabled Devices for Medical Treatment
IoT uses technology in smart devices to connect to apps for tracking the health of individuals. There are many devices and wearables that make the lives of patients a little better.
Some of these include smart clothing, smart medication bottles, smart glasses, pulse oximeters, computer vision technology, fitness bands, fitness trackers, digital stethoscopes, moodables, connected football helmets, hearables, etc.
An important feature of using IoT in connected devices is that physicians can ensure patient compliance. When physicians prescribe medicines and associated dosing schedule, they can monitor whether patients are sticking to the schedule with the help of connected medical devices.
Examples of IoT applied in connected medical devices/connected healthcare
- Monitoring of temperature for vaccines remotely
- Sensors for air quality
- Sleep monitor
- Sleep tools for infants
- Transferring tools for medical data
- Monitoring of drug effectiveness
- Vital signs data capturing
- Biometrics scanners for remote care
- Reminder technology for refilling medication
IoT in Telemedicine
Telemedicine powered by IoT is helping patients get excellent healthcare through real-time treatment. This is especially beneficial to elderly patients as most of them prefer to avoid hospital visits for doctor consultations.
With the help of advanced household gadgets such as voice-activated smart speakers, patients can stay at home and take care of their health. They can order drugs without physically having to go to stores by using devices such as Alexa.
Challenges related to IoT-powered telemedicine
Some of the main challenges related to IoT in healthcare are collection of data, checking the authenticity of the data, maintaining data security, and wearability of IoT devices.
The latest IoT-powered devices for telemedicine come with advanced sensors. Manufacturers are also focusing on building user-friendly devices. To make sure that remote treatments with doctors are effective, companies making IoT devices for medical treatment and doctors need to explain to the patients how each device should be used. To address the wearability issue, doctors now give live online coaching to patients.
In terms of collecting and storing data, new generation IoT devices come with good wearables so that the patients’ vitals are collected accurately and can be accessed by the doctor on time. This ensures safe availability of patient data.
With the help of IoT-powered telemedicine, doctors can track body temperature, sleep schedule, daily activity, seizures and other serious medical conditions too.
IoT in Remote Patient Monitoring
Across the globe, monitoring patients remotely has been possible through IoT. Utilising home-based devices and smart sensor technology, a patient’s health is monitored continuously, and timely treatment can be provided for emergency health issues.
IoT is also increasing mobility among patients as they are getting more involved in the treatment. With the help of fitness bands and other devices, patients are being increasingly motivated to improve and maintain their physical and mental health.
Remote patient management ensures that there is high-level digital security as patient information is extremely confidential. Moreover, the physical safety of patients is maintained through constant tracking so that they avoid falls or injuries. This increases hope and positivity among patients and they are inspired to take the necessary measures to recover.
Primary Advantages of IoT in Healthcare
- Quicker diagnosis: IoT-enabled monitoring devices perform constant tracking of patients and this helps in diagnosing diseases or health issues at an early stage.
- Decrease in expenses: With IoT, a patient can get high quality real-time medical consultations without actual visits to the doctor, hospitalisation, and re-admissions. This will reduce the healthcare expenses of the patient. Hospitals can also remove unnecessary system costs since monitoring is done remotely.
- Better access to healthcare in remote villages and towns: Villages and towns in some countries do not have enough access to cutting-edge healthcare services. Hospitals and governments can collaborate to leverage IoT for providing good healthcare services to such regions.
- Reduction in manual errors: Data collected by connected medical devices are error-free. This improves the overall quality of diagnosis in this domain.
- Better medical treatment: Since doctors can monitor patients on a continuous basis through IoT-powered medical devices, there is more scope for specialised and customised treatments. Doctors and hospitals are also able to deliver high customer satisfaction as patients are more engaged in the follow-up processes after treatment.
- Efficient management of medical equipment and medicines: With IoT, medicines and medical equipment can be effectively managed, and this prevents inefficient usage.
- Identification of side effects at early stages: The technology used in IoT is advanced and helps in identifying the side effects of medications at earlier stages. This is very beneficial to both the physician and the patient. The physician can change the medication and treatment promptly before the condition gets worse.
- Benefits to health insurers – Health insurers can use data collected through these connected healthcare devices for their claims processing and identify fraud claims. It also ensures that claims are handled with full transparency. Some insurers may also give rewards to policyholders who use IoT devices that monitor whether the user has adhered to the treatment guidelines during the recovery phase.
By applying IoT in the healthcare sector, we are building a preventative and proactive healthcare system instead of just offering reactive treatment when illnesses are diagnosed. The entire health system is focussing on prevention so that individuals do not have to suffer the harsh consequences of diseases.
Smart monitoring systems help in detecting symptoms quickly and treating them on time. This is great for both physicians and patients as the stress is reduced immensely. Moreover, patients can receive personalised treatments with the help of IoT-enabled devices as doctors can get a clear picture of their lifestyle and case history.