When we think of IoT in healthcare, we mainly tend to think of smart sensors and smart hospitals. But the solutions go beyond these. It is evident from the fact that spending on the IoT solutions in healthcare will reach $1 trillion by 2025!
IoT promises to help healthcare organizations in providing personalized, accessible, and up-to-the-point healthcare services at a lower cost. From remote health monitoring to transmitting real-time alerts, there are several areas where healthcare IoT finds its use.
Let’s look at some of them to get a better perspective:
Remote Patient Care
In many parts of the world, residents live miles away from the nearest hospital. As such, when there is an emergency, it takes time for them to reach the healthcare facilities. Similarly, for healthcare providers, it becomes difficult to visit patients with chronic conditions frequently. The issue with time-consuming commute can be solved with remote patient care powered by the IoT.
The connectivity can allow healthcare professionals to assist patients with prescriptions, medication, and also measure their biometrics using sensors and remote equipment. For instance, patients can connect any wearable or portable device to the cloud and update the data in real-time.
Some of the IoT devices can also facilitate face-to-face talk over the internet. This can provide healthcare professionals with the necessary information to prepare care plans while the patients are on their way to the hospital. Or even without them needing to visit the hospital in the first place! For chronic patients, this helps create a roster of the patients’ day-to-date health update.
The collected data can form charts and diagrams to be easily visualized by healthcare professionals.
Live video and audio streaming can be used to monitor patients’ present condition without the need for the commute.
Emergency care outputs are based on the time, accuracy, and the availability of contextual information. Moreover, it also depends on the quality of the data received during the emergency call and the information collected while the patient is being transported for immediate care at the healthcare facilities. Also, the entire process of collecting, storing, processing, and retrieving the data during that time is laborious and time-consuming. IoT can help in collecting data accurately, which can be accessed by emergency care staff such as paramedics or staff in the ER for quick and better medical assistance. This data can be also be transmitted to ER staff in real-time while the patient is on her way to the hospital – allowing the hospitals to be better prepared for the care.
Tracking of Inventory, Staff, and Patients
Healthcare organizations are all about increasing the efficiencies of their workforce and reduce operational costs. This is true for both small and large institutions that include several staff members, patients, and inventory. Using IoT devices in the form of wireless ID cards, hospitals can manage admissions, increase the security, and measure the overall performance of the staff. BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons and RFID tags can be used to track the location of the inventory and also trace the staff members in case of any urgency.
Moreover, IoT and RTLS (Real-Time Location Systems) together can facilitate asset tracking. This is one of the most inexpensive ways to keep track of the equipment, drugs, and free resources, who can then spend more time on patient care.
When it comes to healthcare, IoT has penetrated operating rooms as well. Think of connected robotic devices, which are powered by Artificial Intelligence and are used to perform various surgeries. These operations are all about increased precision brought forth by robot-assisted surgeons. Moreover, connected devices and IoT applications can perfectly streamline the activities of the medical staff at both pre and post-operating stages. In both cases, IoT sensors can be used to collect, transmit data, and analyze it. This helps record the tiniest details and therefore, is useful in preventing surgical complications.
Virtual Monitoring of Critical Hardware
It is a given that all the modern healthcare facilities require state-of-the-art hardware and software to function. When these are not taken care of in the best possible manner, the hardware can pose various risks and threats. Think of power outages, system failures, or even cyber-attacks. Since no healthcare organization would want these mishaps to occur, they opt for the best IoT driven solutions. A case in point is that of e-Alert by Philips, which can virtually monitor critical medical hardware. If there is an anomaly in any equipment, the solution alerts the hospital staff, so that a failure can be avoided by preventive maintenance.
The pharmacy business is worth millions of dollars and is quite complicated. Since there are several steps in transferring and managing the drugs from plant to storage facilities in a hospital, there are several preservation issues that may be associated with them. IoT can help combine the best safety approaches and the latest technology to ensure faster drug delivery, safer operations, and better patient care.
For instance, take the example of smart fridges, which can be used to store vaccines and keep them from getting damaged during handling, storage or transfer.
IoT-enabled pharmacies can ensure greater efficiencies and effectiveness in operations, error-free medical dispensing, security, and overall enhanced patient satisfaction.
IoT devices, in the form of wearables, can let the care teams collect numerous data points about the patient’s sleep patterns, activity, heart rate, temperature, and so on. These wearables can offer real-time information to caregivers and patients. Think of a situation in which a heart patient has an elevated heart-rate. The wearable will immediately transmit the signal to the nursing staff and allow them to provide immediate and timely assistance to the patient. This can also help in remote health monitoring of elderly patients who are outside the hospital premises but need constant monitoring.
IoT in healthcare has tremendous potential and can prove to be immensely beneficial for healthcare providers and patients. It is set to transform patient care and organizational efficiencies. Several hospitals around the world have already leveraged the power of IoT under their smart hospital initiatives. At Pratiti, we have helped several healthcare organizations with the design and development of their smart healthcare solutions.
Connect with us to know how we can help you improve patient care, reduce complexity, improve efficiency, and empower decision-makers with actionable insights at the point of care.
Prashant loves technology. While this passion helped him top his Masters class at IIT, he wanted to ensure his contribution remains “applied” rather than “theoretical”. So after working on a few patented technologies, he got an MBA and took up a Practice Head role. This allowed him to leverage technology and expertise, to craft and deliver award-winning software products and solutions. His key areas of interest are analytics and software engineering. He is very excited by the convergence of technologies such as social, mobile, and IoT, and how they are allowing us to redefine the way business is done.