Can IoT really help provide better healthcare?

The rise of the Internet of Things is resulting in some exciting advancements across many industries in the 21st century.
14 August 2018 | 8 Shares

AI is now advancing healthcare. Source: Shutterstock

While technology will never be able to replace humans as the ultimate decision-makers, it can be leveraged to simplify work and bring about efficiency.

Many industries are already well into realizing this. Businesses big and small from industries ranging from manufacturing to retail are leveraging emerging technologies to streamline workflow, save costs, gain valuable insights, and more.

The Internet of Things (IoT) in particular is a game-changer technology that has generated quite a buzz in almost every industry.

In a nutshell, IoT refers to a network of physical devices which are connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data concerning the environment around them. The technology epitomizes convenience, efficiency, and automation.

While IoT is commonly associated with manufacturing and the development of smart factories, the technology is making some significant inroads into the healthcare industry.

According to a report by Allied Market Research, the IoT healthcare market is predicted to reach US$136.8 billion worldwide by 2021. This dramatic growth can be attributed to the wider accessibility of wearable devices and the decreasing costs of sensor technology.

Here are just a few ways the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is set to improve how we keep the population safe and healthy.

The remote monitoring of patients

A significant use case of IoMT is the monitoring of an individuals health while at home. For example, the checking of parameters like blood pressure, blood glucose level, heart rate can be carried out, detecting any spike or change in normal levels. Any abnormalities can be identified and alerted before they become a serious problem.

This will also help healthcare professionals identify problems or prevent the onset of a disease. Prevention has become a primary focus area with healthcare expenses projected to grow to unmanageable levels in the future.

The access to real-time data on an individual’s health could transform healthcare by facilitating people on a journey to healthier lives and prevent disease.

The monitoring of infants

As the IoT ecosystem continues to evolve, we can expect to see the growth of innovations focused around the enhanced safety of children.

Unfortunately, babies and young children are unable to tell you exactly how they are feeling, what they want, or why they are upset. This makes it incredibly hard for parents and caregivers to know what solutions to provide.

The number of IoT devices designed to monitor children is on the rise. Source: Shutterstock

It’s practically impossible to monitor a baby 24/7. But with fatalities such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)- the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby- could IoT play a pivotal role?

There are now microcontroller-based hardware solutions integrated with sensors which check for parameters such as heart rate, sleep position, the breathing rate of a child, and more.

Enhanced inventory management

There is a wide scope for hospitals to significantly improve its inventory management through IoT technology. Many hospitals are actually learning from the retail industry on how to integrate IoT tools with its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

IoT can significantly improve inventory management. Source: Shutterstock

This would greatly benefit the healthcare industry. Through the deployment of connected sensors, management can be alerted when inventory is running low. An IoT approach to inventory replenishment is done much more accurately according to need, saving costs while improving efficiency.

An IoT approach can also be applied to tracking the shelf life of medical inventory. In the healthcare industry, in particular, maintaining the correct expiration date is vital to ensuring the health of a patient.

These are just a few examples of how the healthcare industry can and is greatly benefitting from the IoT revolution.

With the help of IoT-based systems in healthcare organizations, patient care can be greatly improved while also reducing operating costs.