The hype over the Internet of Things (IoT) is understandable, considering how much it is increasingly being incorporated across industries and services to create better experiences for people. From the unprecedented growth of smart city technology services to the widespread use of devices and digital apps in crucial service sectors like healthcare and hospitality, the importance of the Internet of Things will continue to increase.
For example, by transforming the artificial pancreas into a digitally equipped, wearable technology, smart sensors inside a patient’s body offer unprecedented capacities to monitor his health condition. From measuring blood-glucose levels to connecting an internal insulin pump, this IoT-enabled artificial pancreas can solve an expanding number of health problems.
The Internet of Things is transforming the healthcare industry by enabling new digital and connected technologies to deliver treatments with greater value and effectiveness. Let’s have a quick look at the evolving range of Internet of Things technologies and applications for healthcare.
Massive changes brought by the IoT to healthcare
New technologies and digitalization are changing healthcare as a whole. At the very basic level, a quick text message can share a valuable piece of information, trigger an alarm about a patent’s condition, notify someone to take his medicines, or help staff remember a task. But getting the healthcare professionals, staff members, caregivers, patients, patients’ relatives, and pharmacies connected is just the very basic example of how digital communication can make treatment better and enhance healthcare standards.
Thanks to cloud apps, medical and healthcare information can now be stored and accessed by patients and providers anytime through Internet-ready devices with administrative permissions. Storing healthcare data in the cloud – with the ability to pull this information through networked devices – is a great example of how the Internet of Things can transform healthcare for the better. Here are some quick takeaways from this transformation.
- Thanks to wearable technology and sensor-equipped transplanted body parts, it is increasingly becoming easier to capture, analyze, and share health data.
- Personalized treatment can be provided by health and wellness providers based on the more granular-level patient data accessed through digital devices and wearable sensors.
- Individual consumers of healthcare can connect and interact with their health and wellness provider ecosystem.
- Traditional healthcare will change to a great extent, with many other healthcare and wellness elements collaborating through technology.
Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) refers to IoT technology that allows monitoring of patients by doctors and healthcare providers from a different location from the patient. Thanks to remote and real-time monitoring of patients, doctors can assess changes in patients’ conditions and prescribe healthcare interventions. Huge numbers of research projects are underway to improve RPM. To prevent heart attacks, a sensor is being developed to remotely monitor the patient’s heart condition in real time. Besides their use in outpatient settings or locations outside of healthcare facilities, remote monitoring also helps in the hospital to deliver treatments at the beginning of a deterioration, early enough to prevent further damage.
Location tracking technologies
Location tracking will help monitor vulnerable patients whose movement can endanger their life and health. By tracking the location of elderly patients, pregnant women, children, or people with mental illnesses, caregivers and healthcare staffs can take appropriate measures to ensure supervision and prevent damage.
Secondly, location tracking within healthcare facilities can control misuses of resources, unaccountable movements by healthcare staffs, and security threats. Location tracking can also monitor mobile healthcare vans and remote medical clinics to maintain high standards and professional care delivery. These efforts will certainly work towards adding value to healthcare delivery.
Intelligent walking sticks
“Smart” canes or walking sticks are already adding value to many people’s lives. A cane with a digital sensor can track the movement of an elderly man who is indignant in taking a daily stroll, despite his doctor’s prohibition on movement. Such a cane or band can also keep track of people with disabilities and children to ensure their safety and well being.
Artificial and digitally equipped organs
While the artificial pancreas offers a revolutionary way of controlling diseases with technology, it is only the beginning. New gadgets with powerful health tracking sensors and real-time solutions are being extensively researched. Long ago, pacemakers gave us new ways to help an organic condition through mechanical measures, and now researchers are working on technologies that can be remotely controlled to help deliver critical or ongoing medical care. That future is not very far away; consider the advent of swallowed, digitally equipped capsules that can monitor a medical condition and deliver treatment internally. It may sound like something straight from science fiction, but today’s IoT advances show us that such medical technologies are no longer futuristic or fictional.
The healthcare sector is brimming with possibilities for digital breakthroughs to improve patient care. Already remote patient consultation has become an everyday matter, and before long a large part of regular healthcare can be provided over the Internet. The possibilities seem endless. Simple is key.
The success of these technology advances rest on the people who are using them. For more information about building collaborative partnerships that support innovation, see Business Networks: The Platforms for Future Innovation.