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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
Role of IoT in healthcare
3.
How does IoT work in healthcare?
4.
Major Applications of IoT in healthcare
4.1.
Remote Health Monitoring
4.2.
Medical Devices
4.3.
Chronic Disease Management
5.
Benefits of using IoT in healthcare
6.
Challenges to using IoT in healthcare
7.
What is the future of IoT in healthcare?
8.
Frequently Asked Questions
8.1.
Describe some of the challenges involved in using IoT in healthcare.
8.2.
Do we need cloud architecture for IoT to assess the patient’s data?
8.3.
How does IoT impact our lives in healthcare?
9.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

IoT in Healthcare

Leveraging ChatGPT - GenAI as a Microsoft Data Expert
Speaker
Prerita Agarwal
Data Specialist @
23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM

Introduction

Computerised healthcare has long been the dream of science fiction authors. Cough into a vial, look into an eye scanner and the computer would dispense appropriate medicine. This dream is now close to becoming real.

While remote sensing medical devices have existed for decades, the underlying technology has evolved over the years. Today, interconnected networks of smart devices, in short IoT, can track and diagnose your health remotely, without even visiting a doctor. So, the rise of IoT’s role in healthcare increases a patient’s health and convenience and increases the productivity of health workers.

In this article, we will understand IoT's role in healthcare and how it has benefitted the industry immensely.

Role of IoT in healthcare

IoT helps healthcare workers by allowing them to monitor a patient's state remotely. The IoT smart devices are smart; they can continuously monitor the patient and alert the doctors when something unexpected happens. This creates a safer environment for the patient and healthcare providers, who now don’t have to interact with a sick individual consistently.

The many other ways IoT is used in healthcare are:

  1. IoT gives personalised feedback to the user about their health. This helps the user to track and improve their health.
  2. IoT can help people who are elderly or immobile communicate with their doctors without leaving their homes.
  3. During medical emergencies, IoT can be very helpful by sending an SOS to the hospital in case the user is unconscious or unable to call for help.
  4. Data from these IoT smart devices is helpful to health insurance companies who can leverage the data gathered for their underwriting operation. This ensures that both sides get a fair deal.

Source

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How does IoT work in healthcare?

There is a process by which IoT operates in the healthcare industry. It consists of a 4 step architectural plan to utilise the data documented and give accurate observations efficiently. These steps are:

  1. In the first stage, the data collection devices are deployed. These smart devices are sensors, detectors, monitors and actuators etc.
  2. Data from sensors and other smart devices are often in analogue format, which must be gathered and transformed into digital format for data processing.
  3. The data is pre-processed, standardised, and transported to the data centre or Cloud after it has been digitised and aggregated.
  4. Now the data is analysed at the required level. Advanced analytics provides actionable business insights for better decision-making when applied to this data.

Source

Also see, Difference Between Verilog and Vhdl

Major Applications of IoT in healthcare

Remote Health Monitoring

This is one of the most critical uses of IoT technology in healthcare. Nowadays, we see a shift from hospital care to more private environments due to rising costs, the shortage of healthcare workers, and the pandemic overburdening hospitals. IoT technology allows people to set up more convenient spaces to get the desired healthcare. Companies like Honeywell have done financially well by providing people with remote care providers.

Source

Medical Devices

The earliest applications of IoT in healthcare happened to be medical devices. Smart watches and even smart phones that can track your activity, heart rate and temperature are examples of IoT medical devices.

Some other major IoT smart devices are:

  1. Hearables: They are a new hearing aid technology that can be connected to your smartphone. It allows users to filter and equalise the sounds they are hearing.
  2. Ingestible Sensors: When patients swallow their prescribed medicine, a tiny sensor inside the medicine sends a signal to a wearable device on the patient, sending it to a dedicated phone app. This helps doctors keep track of the patient’s schedule.
  3. Smart Mattresses: They can analyse your environment and usual sleep patterns to create optimal conditions for you to sleep.
  4. Insulin Pens and Smart CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring): This device helps people with diabetes track their blood sugar levels by monitoring it and sending the data to a dedicated phone app.
  5. Moodables: They are wearable smart devices that can help improve our mood. A moodable is worn on the head where it can electrocute our brain with a low-intensity current that will make us feel better.
  6. Healthcare Charting: The data gathered from IoT technology can be too much for any human to decipher. This puts undue pressure on the doctor and can lead to accidents. So, devices like Audemix take the patient’s data and turn it into readily accessible charts for the healthcare providers.

Chronic Disease Management

Many companies have invested a lot of money to provide a level of care to chronically sick people. These people need a consistent monitoring system, but obviously, they can’t stay in hospitals all the time. These people use IoT to track and send their data to their doctors in real-time to keep their illnesses under control.

Pfizer and IBM, for example, have partnered to create “Parkinson’s House”, a tech-filled residence with sensors on practically every surface, to study the responsiveness of their medicine.

Benefits of using IoT in healthcare

There are many benefits to IoT if adopted in regular healthcare. The biggest would be an increase in positive outcomes in cases, as the data gathered by IoT smart devices is very accurate, enabling better decision-making. The data collected can also be so large as to be overwhelming for a person to decipher. IoT smart devices can help interpret and represent it in an accessible way.

Another vital benefit of IoT technology is its general affordability. The patient can just send their healthcare data to the doctor and spare the expenses of hospital visits.

The detailed data sent by the IoT users is also helpful to the doctors themselves. This data, which is reliably accurate and highly detailed, helps them conduct further research into the illnesses the smart devices describe.

The real-time tracking of IoT devices is very beneficial to both patients and doctors. It helps the doctors track if the patient is following the medical regimen prescribed and get alerted if things deviate too much. In turn, the patient can easily communicate with his healthcare provider and get in touch quickly in case of an emergency.

Challenges to using IoT in healthcare

The most significant challenge to the use of IoT in healthcare is the lack of security in IoT data protocols. Data privacy is also a major concern for many users as the legal regulations are ambiguous about the ownership of this data. All of this makes the data vulnerable to hackers and cybercriminals.

Due to the relatively young age of IoT technology, there is a lot of argument about which communication standards and protocols IoT devices should follow. This makes the integration of these smart devices over various devices a difficult task. The abundance of communication standards and protocols also makes data aggregation more complicated than it needs to be.

What is the future of IoT in healthcare?

IoT has seen rapid adoption in many healthcare areas, which is expected to continue. As internet latency decreases with the introduction of 5G technology, IoT will become even more reliable and cheap. Evolution in AI technology will increase the ability of IoT to make sense of large segments of patient data in a short amount of time. This would make IoT virtually indispensable for healthcare professionals worldwide and completely transform how we approach healthcare.

Check out this article - Components Of IOT

Frequently Asked Questions

Describe some of the challenges involved in using IoT in healthcare.

The most challenging aspect of using IoT in healthcare is its lack of security. The data recorded and sent by these devices could be highly private, so people are wary of IoT devices. The tremendous amount of data IoT devices generate could be another challenge for the user’s storage.

Do we need cloud architecture for IoT to assess the patient’s data?

Yes, the amount of data IoT devices generate could overwhelm most storage spaces. Cloud storage can also help segment the data so that the doctors, insurance providers, and the hospital can only access the authorised data.

How does IoT impact our lives in healthcare?

Data analytics and smart health care are enabled when health data is gathered, shared, and stored by IoT sensors, which can enhance risk factor identification, illness diagnosis, treatment, and remote monitoring, as well as empower individuals to self-manage.

Conclusion

This article discusses the role of IoT in healthcare, its benefits and applications.

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