A monotonous waiting room with long queues desperately waiting to visit the doctor as soon as possible. And on the other hand, gloomy faces of the patients there with their painful cries.
Well, this was the situation of hospitals a few years back. Now, things are changing with the speed of technology. Advanced healthcare facilities, healthcare mobile applications, and an all-new concept IoT are turning the whole face of the healthcare domain.
IoT after getting the hold of many domains like Enterprises, Retails, Government, industrial, IoT is finally booming the healthcare domain also.
Perhaps, no other sector has taken the great benefits of the Internet of Things than healthcare.
Be it for doctors, researchers, patients or insurers, IoT in healthcare is actually a vibrant force. Doctors can now monitor patients’ health and improvement continuously while patients, on the other hand, can connect with their doctors easily. Specialists and researchers got the chance to confer with one another across the globe about difficult health cases.
Though technology cannot stop the population from aging or eradicating chronic diseases but it can at least make healthcare easier in a pocket.
Hence, it is not wrong to say that Healthcare is one of the most exciting yet challenging verticals for IoT transformation while posing great future scope of IoT in Healthcare.
With it, IoT app development is also gaining momentum in the healthcare domain.
Before going any further, it will be wise to check out the stats for the IoT market trends to validate how the technology is changing different domains. Once done with that, understanding how the technology is fueling healthcare will not be a task.
Statistics of IoT in Healthcare domain
Statistics from Becker’s hospital review suggest that
- Nearly three-fifths of healthcare providers use IoT devices in their institutions.
- 73 % of facilities monitor their patients with IoT devices.
- 89 % of the facilities have suffered from a security breach in their systems.
- 87 % of organizations are planning on implementing IoT in their facilities by 2019.
- Organizations feel that IoT has saved costs up to 57 % for their facilities.
Also, the Internet of Things (IoT) Healthcare market was valued at USD 28.42 Billion in 2015 and is projected to reach USD 337.41 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 28.2% over the forecast period.
Even though the healthcare industry was slower in the initial phase to adopt the Internet of Things technologies as compared to other industries but the new sensation Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is a game-changer. It is poised to transform how to keep people safe and healthy that too in a cost-efficient way. All these things showing the overall future scope of IoT in the Healthcare domain.
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is an amalgamation of medical devices and mobile applications connecting healthcare information technology systems via network technologies. The technology can reduce unnecessary hospital visits along with lessening the burden on health care systems by connecting patients to their physicians and doctors while allowing the transfer of medical data that too over a secure network.
Report by Frost & Sullivan analysis, the global IoT market was worth $22.5 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $72.02 billion by 2021, at a compound annual growth rate of 26.2%.
Offering great help to the healthcare domain, the IoMT market is filled with smart devices like wearables, medical/vital monitors for health care use on the body, in the home, community, clinic or hospital settings while associating real-time location, telehealth, and other services.
Furthermore, on-body Segment is divided into two segments- Consumer health wearables and medical/clinical-grade wearables.
- Consumer Health Wearables include consumer-grade devices for personal wellness or fitness, like- activity trackers, bands, wristbands, sports watches, and smart garments. Companies that operate in this space include Misfit (Fossil group), Fitbit, Withings, and Samsung Medical.
- Clinical-Grade Wearables include regulated devices and supporting platforms that are generally certified/approved for use by one or more regulatory or health authorities, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Few examples of such wearables are smart belts from Active Protective that detects falls and deploys hip protection for elderly people, Halo Neuroscience’s Halo Sport headset worn during workouts and physical training sessions for stimulating brain areas responsible for muscle memory, strength and endurance , Neurometrix Quell, which is a wearable neuromodulation device that taps into sensory nerves for providing relief from chronic pain.
The in-home segment includes personal emergency response systems (PERS), remote patient monitoring (RPM) and telehealth virtual visits.
Community Segment consists of five segments-
- Mobility Services allow the passenger’s vehicle to track health parameters during transit.
- Emergency Response Intelligence is designed for assisting first responders, paramedics and hospital emergency department care providers.
- Point-of-Care Devices are medical devices used by people outside of the home or in traditional health care settings, such as at a medical camp.
- Kiosks are physical structures with computer touchscreen displays, that can dispense products or provide services such as connectivity to care providers.
- Logistics involves the transport and delivery of health care goods and services including pharmaceuticals, medical and surgical supplies, medical devices and equipment and other products needed by care providers.
This segment includes IoMT devices that are used for administrative or clinical functions.
This segment is divided into IoMT-enabled devices and a larger group of solutions in several management areas.
With the use of technology-based healthcare methods, there are unparalleled benefits lining up that can improve the quality and efficiency of treatments along with improving the health of the patients.
Reasons Why Healthcare Need IoT
- Reducing emergency room waiting time
- Tracking patients, staff, and inventory
- Enhancing drug management
- Enhancing patients’ participation while offering them satisfactory result
- Ensuring the availability of critical hardware
- Turning data into actions
- Greatly promoting preventive care
- Improving the patient’s health
Well, this was a brief introduction about IoT and its basics, let’s dig deeper to understand the future scope of IoT in the healthcare domain.
Benefits of IoT in Healthcare
Reporting and Monitoring
Through connected devices, it becomes easy for doctors and physicians to monitor patients’ health. Also, real-time monitoring can save lives in a medical emergency like diabetic attacks, heart failure, asthma attacks, etc.
By means of a smart medical device connected to the smartphone app, collecting medical and other required health data will not be challenging. IoT devices collect and transfer health data like- blood pressure, oxygen, and blood sugar levels, weight, and ECGs.
Data collected from these devices are stored in the cloud and can be used by an authorized person, who could be a physician, insurance company, a participating health firm or an external consultant, regardless of their place, time, or device.
Connectivity and Affordability
Another objective of IoT in healthcare enables operability, machine-to-machine communication, information exchange, and data movement that ultimately makes the healthcare facility delivery effective and efficient.
Through connectivity protocols like Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, Z-wave, ZigBee, and other modern protocols, healthcare personnel can change the way they spot illnesses and ailments in patients and also innovating the ways of treatment.
Consequently, a technology-driven setup can cut regular visits to the health personnel while lowering the cost factor.
Analysis and Data Assortment
Without the cloud, it is impossible to store a vast amount of data collected from healthcare mobile applications and devices. Also, for healthcare personnel, it is quite tough to acquire data originating from various devices and sources.
In such a situation, IoT devices can collect, report and analyze the data in real-time while cutting the need to store the raw data.
Alerts and Tracking
In life-threatening circumstances, on-time alerts become quite critical.
To combat such situations, medical IoT devices and applications can gather vital data and transfer it to doctors and health personnel for real-time tracking. Also, these mobile applications and IoT devices can also send notifications regarding a patient’s critical conditions irrespective of place, time.
Remote Medical Assistance
For lone patients in a medical emergency, it is near next to impossible to contact a doctor who is available miles away.
But with IoT application in healthcare and other related devices, it is possible to do so. Not only this, the medics and health personnel can also check the patients to identify the ailments on-the-go.
Apart from helping doctors and patients, IoT in healthcare can also help in research purposes.
IoT devices collect massive amounts of data about patient’s illnesses that might take days to collect manually. The data collected through these devices can be used for statistical study.
By using IoT enabled devices, doctors can monitor patients in real-time. Thus, the process of real-time monitoring at distinct places can help patients cut down not-so-necessary visits to doctors, hospital stays and re-admissions.
The data gathered from IoT devices help doctors and physicians to make evidence-based informed decisions along with bringing absolute transparency.
Faster Disease Diagnosis
Due to continuous patient monitoring and real-time data tracking, doctors can diagnose/detect disease at an early stage or even before the disease actually develops based on symptoms.
Drugs and Equipment Management
Among many other challenges, management of drugs and medical equipment is a major challenge. The challenge which can be cracked with the help of connected devices.
The data that generates from the connected devices helps in taking effective and accurate decision making and also ensures smooth operations with a reduction in errors, waste, and costs.
This was all about the benefits of IoT and mobile applications, let us now see how these benefits are stored in health wearables to support patients and users in need.
IoT based Health Wearables
For those who suffer from hearing loss.
Hearables are often compatible with Bluetooth that easily syncs with smartphones also. This device allows one to filter, equalize along with adding layered features to real-world sounds. Doppler Labs is one of the best examples of such hearables.
They are pill-sized sensors that help in monitoring the medication in our body and warns us if it detects something obnoxious.
Such sensors are boon for diabetic patients as they help them in curbing symptoms. Proteus Digital Health is one such example.
These are meant for improving one’s mood throughout the day.
These devices are head-mounted wearables that send low-intensity current to the brain that ultimately elevate mood.
Devices like Audemix reduces manual work which a doctor has to do during patient charting.
The device is powered by voice commands and also captures the patient’s data. While doing so, it makes the patient’s data accessible for review.
Location – Tracking Devices
Due to the continuous cases of elderly people, or persons with a mental disorder or dementia getting lost mid-way, such cases give birth to location-tracking devices and implants.
These devices are GPS-enabled that provide timely responses to the patient’s family while informing them about their real-time location.
There are devices that measure breath rate, heart rate, body temperature, even body posture in order to detect the cause.
In addition to this, there are devices available that track staff behavior. For example- special sensors can indicate if the staff has washed their hands before the surgery or after visiting the restroom.
Health monitoring devices
These are the gadgets that gather the patient’s vitals like blood pressure, blood sugar level, heart rate, body temperature, etc.
Few of the examples in this category are-
- Fertility monitors that enable women to track their ovulation cycles to increase their chances of getting pregnant.
- Blood sugar level meters alarm in cases of abnormality.
- Pulse oximeters are best for those who are suffering from asthma as these meters measure blood oxygen levels, heart rate while reporting the results to the physicians too.
With it, the future scope of IoT in the healthcare domain comes with its own set of challenges. Read further to know those challenges-
Challenges with IoT in Healthcare
Data Security and Privacy
As IoT devices and mobile applications capture and transmit data in real-time, it also comes up with the risk of data security and privacy.
Also, most of the IoT devices list in healthcare lack data protocols and standards and ambiguity regarding data ownership regulation.
Together, all these factors make the data open to cybercrimes, frauds, and theft and risking Personal Health Information (PhI) of both medics and patients.
Devices and Protocols
Because of no communication protocols and standard, multiple devices certainly act as a barrier in the implementation of IoT in healthcare domain.,
Thus, no matter if the devices are connected, there will always be a difference in the communication protocol that complicates and hinders the whole process of data interactions.
Accuracy and Data Overload
Because of various protocols and standards, data aggregation becomes difficult.
Due to the tremendous amount of data collected by mobile applications and IoT based devices, it becomes difficult for medics to take quality decisions on time.
In many ways, IoT is leading the race but till now it is not that affordable to the common man as that for big healthcare organizations.
As IoT devices rely and run on the internet, not having Wi-Fi connectivity in areas where IoT is needed the most will flop the idea of IoT devices. Hospitals having no connectivity is still possible but on patients’ front, there is no guarantee of the same.
Though this is the last challenge to adopting IoT in healthcare in this blog but certainly it is not the last one. IoT devices operate 24*7*365 days, it becomes the responsibility of healthcare institutions to provide round-the-clock maintenance. And if they fail to do so, it will become difficult to receive patients’ information on time accurately.
Is There Any Need for Healthcare Mobile Applications?
Isn’t it easy for the hospital staff, doctors and majorly for the patients to receive and send the medical reports via mobile applications, without the need to physically visit the doctor’s chamber?
Isn’t it viable for elderly patients or patients in an emergency to send in the medical urgency to the nearby hospitals?
Isn’t is easy for the family of a dementia patient to send in continuous health status to the doctor through a mobile application?
Isn’t it healthy for the unhealthy or diabetic patient to keep a track of his/her health report?
Isn’t it trouble-free for the patients and doctors to save huge amounts of data by connecting or integrating mobile apps with the cloud?
The list of such questions is endless but there is only one technical solution to such questions and that is- Mobile applications.
The ultimate solution of these things are strengthening the future use of IoT in Healthcare, so you too get ready to embrace it with open arms for a great beginning.
So, Are You Ready to Build your First Healthcare Based Mobile Application?
What’s fun without beating the challenges to acquiring IoT in healthcare. When in doubt always remember that healthcare mobile applications are the need of the hour and offering the same to the users can become your first step towards success. If you have made up your mind to invest in IoT based mobile applications, we are here to help you out. Connect with us today.
A technocrat and an entrepreneur who is the Co-Founder and Chief Delivery Head at Appventurez. Skilled in object-oriented programming (OOP), iOS Development, Design Principles, Data Structures, and Swift, he has served different organizations as Tech Lead.
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