The advancements of technology have never been more evident than it is today. A new era; let’s call this ‘industrial revolution 2.0’ is about to begin. Manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing, automated production lines, and drones will be used in various fields, one of them being the healthcare industry. This article aims to explain how IoT (the internet of things) can improve many lives daily.
What exactly is connected health?
Connected health refers to doctors and nurses working in hospitals and care homes to access information via mobile devices or handheld computers about patient conditions and care plans, which leads to better treatment and outcomes. The connected health market refers to providing technology (IoT) through devices such as sensors, which can be attached to the body while patients are undergoing care, for example – alarm systems in case of falls or irregular heart rate, drug delivery via an implant or mobile phones, drip systems that monitor patient wellbeing, security alarms for dementia sufferers and software that allows medical staff to access patient records anywhere/anytime.
What would help doctors?
The amount of data provided by connected health can be overwhelming; however, this information is vital for doctors to continue making the best decisions to keep their patients healthy or get them back on track to recovery quickly. Several technologies have been developed looking at different sectors looking at how IoT can be utilized to improve lives. Here are some that have been used in the healthcare sector:
- Digital pill (or digital medicine)
- Medical drones (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles)
- Wifi enabled spray for people with asthma
Some of these technologies take time to develop initially, but it is often quite simple to scale once they are up and running. In 2013, Google revealed its plans to build a contact lens that monitors glucose levels of people with diabetes. Many opportunities within IoT can help with healthcare technology. A doctor could input data into a tablet or computer about their patient’s condition, relaying back information directly relating to whether the treatment was effective. This would allow doctors to access large amounts of data quickly to make decisions almost immediately instead of waiting days/weeks for results from hospital labs. Doctors may also administer drugs using a wifi-enabled inhaler rather than a traditional one, which would mean patients receive their treatment quickly.
Why is this important?
The more information doctors have access to, the more chance they have of recuperating their patients back to total health as soon as possible and keeping them healthy for longer. This will reduce costs on medication and prevent unnecessary hospital admissions due to complications from poor care or diagnosis from misreading results from labs etc. As work by doctors becomes easier, workflow speeds up, and doctor-patient interaction improves as decisions are made more efficiently. This provides us with a better understanding of how IoT can be used in all sectors as it develops further.
Let’s take the example of a patient suffering from allergies and asthma who lives alone. A connected health device could be attached to her body, emitting a warning if she has an asthma attack or is about to have one. However, this depends on how serious her condition is. If she also has dementia, another connected health device could be combined with the first so that patients near enough pass out after too long without oxygen – again, this would depend on the severity of her condition or whether or not they are at risk of falling over. In this situation, the drone would fly automatically to where the patient needs help most urgently and assist before anything happens. This is just an example and not mandatory; IoT can help with many more complicated situations than this.
What is the status of IoT in healthcare?
IoT has been involved in healthcare for a few years now, and its impact has been noticed – however it cannot be said that the industry has made the most out of this beneficial technology as there is still much advancement needed. The benefits to patient care and working efficiency provided by connected health devices emitting data can be life-changing, but there are technical problems that prevent these products from reaching their full potential. Security concerns such as hacking and privacy issues must first be addressed.
Many devices currently access only one person, meaning that patient data can be spread across many devices, which is not compliant with GDPR. Hence, doctors and patients alike feel confident that what they choose to share on IoT will not harm them and secure enough that no one else’s information can be accessed. IoT technology helps the medical sector as a whole. Still, providers must work together to ensure that they are all using compatible software and complying with safety and privacy regulations.
There are many benefits of IoT for healthcare
- It allows doctors to access large amounts of data quickly – this would mean patients receive their treatment quickly, and their health would improve more rapidly.
- The use of drones means patients who live alone and cannot quickly get out of bed to reach a doctor or hospital could still receive help when required – this may be due to severe asthma attacks etc., thus preventing unnecessary hospital admissions.
- It increases productivity amongst healthcare professionals, therefore helping the whole medical industry run more smoothly and improve patient care – this also applies to patients themselves who can use IoT products at home to monitor their health.
- The ability of IoT devices to communicate with each other means that even if a patient is not in contact with their doctor or another person over their condition, they could still receive help when needed.
A connected device may emit an alert if it detects something wrong with one’s health, which could be necessary feels RemoteDBA.com experts. For example, if one suffers from diabetes and needs regular insulin injections (e.g., connected devices attached directly to the skin). One of these connected gadgets could detect low blood sugar levels and automatically administer.