The need for IoT healthcare has increased because of an aging population, expensive medical services, and outdated healthcare infrastructure. Affordable and innovative health care is a future reality. The IoT allows us to change this industry fundamentally.
What is IoT and How Does it Work?
The Internet of Things (IoT) or the Internet of Everything (IoE) can be described as a network of interconnected devices. The IoT consists of the whole ecosystem of interconnected gadgets, but not of separate devices. These devices are equipped with different sensors and processors that let information be collected from surrounding environments and sent over the network. This process happens without any human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
The use cases of the Internet of Things are numerous – from smart thermostats and bulbs, to car trackers, and even health monitors. For instance, a thermostat can detect the temperature in a room and send data to the cloud. Then, the data can be sent to an application on the user’s device so that they can decide to either turn the temperature up or down through the app or manually. The system can also automatically perform necessary actions based on predefined user preferences with no human interaction. The latter option is named machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.
IoT devices make our life more comfortable and let us automate things that are routine. The next step is the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) which means penetration into other industries, including healthcare.
IoT in Healthcare: Short Overview
The adoption of IoT in healthcare is slower, but over the last 10 years, the number of IoT devices in healthcare has grown immensely.
Nowadays, IoT healthcare devices have been introduced in various forms like heart rate, temperature, and blood glucose level monitors on the market. Such devices collect important data and provide doctors with extra insights into symptoms and any human body problems. In such a way it becomes easier to identify issues before they become critical and deliver medical help earlier.
Life expectancy rises and the healthcare costs too and with the help of IoT, we can reduce the cost of healthcare services.
Among early applications of the medical IoT are smart beds, medication dispensers and smart Fridge for vaccines.
Nowadays, there are 3.7 million medical devices that collect and monitor health data. By 2021 the Internet of Medical Things market size will reach $136.8 billion worldwide.
Benefits of Applying IoT in Healthcare
The IoT and healthcare have created incredible solutions for many pressing problems. They reduce health costs and waiting time, and make healthcare and medical checks accessible to everyone from home.
Now let’s discuss the benefits of IoT healthcare.
- Real-time health monitoring
Real-time monitoring with smart health devices can save lives in the event of a medical emergency. An IoT healthcare system receives information about heart failure, asthma attack, or another malfunction. It then transfers the collected data to an emergency station.
A study shows that by integrating activity trackers and blood pressure monitors, a hospital was able to reduce the readmission rate by 50% in 30 days among patients with heart failure.
- Professional assistance around the world
Smart medical devices collect and transfer important health data, including but not limited to blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen and blood sugar levels, ECGs, etc. Data stored in the cloud can be shared with doctors from any part of the world. They can look at the data from a device with the installed app to provide a specialized medical consultation and help patients regardless of their location. As a result, we get better medical services no matter where and when.
- Lower costs
IoT healthcare solutions and connected medical devices monitor health in real time, so patients can visit doctors less often. Overall, this reduces costs due to fewer hospital stays and readmission.
In conclusion, concerns about security, data exchange and storage, infrastructure costs and lack of regulations impact connected healthcare. Yet, the IoT healthcare industry is on the rise. The benefits they bring are too attractive to ignore.