Imagine if you are a relative of a chronically ill patient who has forgotten to take his medicine and his condition is worsening. You receive the alert about the changing health condition, are able to know the location of the patient, quickly check some of their vital parameters remotely to see if hospitalization is becoming necessary. Not only this, by while you are gathering all this information, your car’s navigation system can inform you, which of the nearest hospitals have a free bed and create the clearest traffic route to get there in a jiffy. This is not storied from a sci-fi movie but something which is now being made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT).
“Internet of Things (IoT) refers to any physical object embedded with technology capable of exchanging data connected together over the Internet.”
IoT is creating a more efficient healthcare system in terms of time, energy and cost. One area where this technology could prove transformative is in healthcare.
Care at Home
There are people all over the world whose health may suffer because they don’t have ready access to effective health monitoring. But small, powerful wireless solutions connected through the IoT are now making it possible for monitoring to come to these patients instead of vice-versa.
Let’s check this example for a patient suffering from dementia if we can equip them with sensors/ wearable and their health could be monitored remotely by their caretakers hopefully the patient can be allowed to stay within their own homes for longer. This can prevent or delay the need for costly long-term care in nursing homes plus reduce the need for unplanned hospital admissions and Doctor visits.
Similarly, for elderly, we can detect the onset of a wide range of health issues, from high blood pressure to early signs of delirium. Emergency admissions could be reduced – with proactive health systems in place to address the problems before they become more serious or irreversible.
The data that could be taken from a network of IoT devices will also be able to significantly lower margins of error thus making remote health diagnosis and treatment possible thus dramatically cutting down on the necessity for routine reviews and checkups. Patients could be allowed to leave hospitals and clinics earlier, as professionals are enabled to monitor them from home and health specialists from around the world can provide consultation or even diagnosis from hundreds of miles away rather than keeping them in hospitals for observation.
Care in Hospitals
Hospitalized patients whose physiological status requires close attention can be constantly monitored using IoT-driven, non-invasive monitoring. This type of solution employs sensors to collect comprehensive physiological information and uses gateways and the cloud to analyze and store the information and then send the analyzed data remotely to caregivers for further analysis and review. It replaces the process of having a health professional come by at regular intervals to check the patient’s vital signs, instead of providing a continuous automated flow of information. In this way, it simultaneously improves the quality of care through constant attention and lowers the cost of care by eliminating the need for a caregiver to actively engage in data collection and analysis.
Using IoT devices patients with chronic diseases may be less likely to develop complications with an early diagnosis, for example, patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases who are being treated with digitalis could be monitored around the clock to prevent drug intoxication. Arrhythmia that is randomly seen on an EKG could be easily detected, and EKG data indicating heart hypoxemia could lead to faster detection of cardiac issues. The data collected may also enable a more preventive approach to healthcare by providing information for people to make healthier choices.