Internet of Things in Healthcare

Technology has disrupted every industry including healthcare, business, finance and others. Healthcare remains the fastest to adopt technological changes to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of the body. When we talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), it offers a multitude of benefits such as improving the effectiveness and quality of services by deploying it in medical devices.

A report by Allied Market Research predicts that the IoT healthcare market will reach $136.8 billion worldwide by 2021. Today, there are 3.7 million medical devices in use that are connected to and monitor various parts of the body to inform healthcare decisions. The Internet of Medical Things refers to the connected system of medical devices and applications that collect data that is then provided to healthcare IT systems through online computer networks.

Here are some statistics:

  • Nearly 60% of healthcare organizations have introduced IoT devices into their facilities
  • 73% of healthcare organizations use IoT for maintenance and monitoring
  • 87% of healthcare organizations plan to implement IoT technology by 2019 which is slightly higher than the 85% of businesses across various industries
  • Nearly 64% use of IoT in the healthcare industry is patient monitors
  • 89% of healthcare organizations have suffered from IOT related security breach

For 2018, engineers have predicted that IoT’s revolution in the market will take along the analytics, thereby increasing the relevancy of data interpretations wile lowering the time users require to piece together data outputs. At the same time, a new category of “personalized preventative health coaches” (Digital Health Advisors) will surface in a coming year. These workers will be able to process and understand data, and they could effectively assist their clients who might suffer from chronic and/or diet-related illnesses. Along with this, the digital advisors can help users attain an enhanced lifestyle, improved mental health, and better cognitive functioning.

With other aspects, the most prominent boost to the healthcare system from IoT is in terms of money management and fewer investments. For instance, IoT drastically reduces hospital costs when it’s possible for a patient to be remotely monitored without being hospitalized.

Also, hospital data management is overwhelmingly improved due to the implementation of IoT devices such as scanners and monitors. We’ve already seen this in the detection of wide-spread and common diseases like diabetes. The self-management wearable gadget constantly monitors the situation of a patient, and special apps could be used to control the fluctuating blood sugar level.

How healthcare industry can harness the power of IoT and set the stage for highly accessible, personalized and on-time healthcare services for everyone. Have a look at it.

Cutting Cost through Remote Health Monitoring

The number one benefit of adopting IoT in a healthcare organization is cost reduction. Healthcare specialists can take advantage of remote health monitoring without the patient being present in the hospital. No matter, whether the patient is at home, in the office or some other part of the world, healthcare specialists can monitor the patient’s health and provide recommended treatments.

Thus, it can reduce the workload of healthcare providers who can’t bear the flooding of patients each day. Moreover, the shortage of staff at medical health centers would never disrupt the checkup of patients. IoT can also be helpful in third world countries where health facilities are inaccessible. It can also be useful in areas hit by flood, earthquake, tsunami or hurricane. Overall, the impact of this technology will offer better health facilities, no longer specific to particular regions but globally.

Collecting and Understanding Medical Data

During a patient’s stay, they are tangled in medical devices including heart monitors, blood pumps, respirators, and IVs. However, the operation and recording of information from these devices take a lot of time and are prone to errors on behalf of caregivers.

Today, with IoT a patient’s data can be conveyed through Electronic Health Record systems automatically. This method helps in increasing the accuracy of data and allows nurses to spend more time providing care.

On the other hand, doctors have to interpret data to decide the cure for patients. Due to the increase of medical devices, it can be challenging for doctors to come up with a proper diagnosis. For this, an IoT solution can be used to support health practitioners while combining IoT data from a multitude of medical devices and gain insights about patient’s health, without scattering the information.

Patient Monitoring

The evolution of wearable health gadgets like the Apple iWatch has begun playing a pivotal role in the monitoring of an individual’s health. Still, these products are sometimes not as accurate compared to general medical equipment.

On the other hand, wearable IoT devices can analyze and detect different health points such as blood pressure, heartbeat, brainwaves, temperature, physical position, footsteps and breathing patterns. With the help of data collected through IoT devices, doctors can share their feedback and give general suggestions in the case of an emergency.

Although, the IoT is revolutionary in the healthcare sector, there are few challenges as well that needs to be kept in mind. Have a look at them.

Where it’s an easy task to understand the extensive use and advantages of IoT, it is necessary to recognize the potential threats to healthcare.

Along these productive aspects, IoT could expose certain risks to the healthcare sector that shouldn’t be ignored by us. Health information in terms of machine-managed data is really efficient, but along with that,a single disorder or irregularity could damage reputations or ravage careers, amongst other things.

Like any other networked technology, IoT is also susceptible to malicious intrusions with the intent of data theft. IoT devices in the health sector with a massive amount of patient’s data and health records could pose an extreme concern to patients and their privacy even if the slightest disruption occurs. Through these information exchanges, the vital information of a patient’s health condition must be maintained as confidential. Also, the erosion of IoT or unintentional disturbance could leak private health records. Critical data could be misused if accessed by the hackers or data snoopers in either scenarios.

To establish IoT networked systems, the healthcare sector makes settlements and agreements with different vendors. Before taking such a step, an institute should affirm that the data traffic between IoT devices is encrypted. Encryption is a vital factor that could efficiently mitigate the threats of data theft or data leaks for information processing.

Towards that same end, it is important to confirm and authorize the identity of an individual before granting them access to network systems. This could be achieved through built-in security controls such as login credential confirmation to avoid the misappropriation of sensitive data.

Along with these preventions, IoT devices should be configured to prevent data storage media from being stolen and accessed.

As the number of connected devices increases IT systems will need to determine how to handle the data load securely. In order for the IoMT things to truly be transformative, healthcare organizations will need to figure out how to turn all the data it collects into insights that can inform action. While the momentum of this transformation is increasing, it will require hospital administrators, manufacturers and vendors to work together to drive healthcare’s cultural metamorphosis.

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