IOT as a key in Digital Healthcare System

What is IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of interconnected, internet-connected objects that can gather and transmit data without the need for human interaction across a wireless network.

Kevin Ashton originated the term "internet of things" in 1999. The dot com boom was in full swing by the late 1990s, and academics like Neil Gershenfeld of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were coining phrases like "Things That Think" to characterize research into the use of sensors on common objects.

These devices range from common household items to industrial instruments. Experts predict that by 2020, there will be more than 10 billion connected IoT devices, and by 2025, there will be 22 billion.

IoT in Healthcare

In the beginning, IoT's application in healthcare was limited to the maintenance and control of huge medical machines, allowing suppliers to monitor and maintain the machines remotely.

In healthcare, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of connected medical devices that can generate, collect, and store data and connect to a network, analyze data, and transmit data.

The growing popularity of IoT in the healthcare and medical fields has also fuelled the growth of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), which is defined as a collection of medical devices and applications that can communicate with healthcare information technology systems networking technologies.

The IoMT industry is booming, with revenues expected to reach US$158 billion by 2022, up from US$41 billion in 2017. The recent COVID-19 problem will accelerate this sector's hypergrowth.

Remote patient monitoring is an example of IoMT. Patients who have a piece of wireless medical equipment (such as a blood glucose monitor, oxygen level monitor) can not only track their vital signs at home but the information can also be sent to their doctor for further monitoring and analysis.

Let us now focus on some of the ways IoT is used in healthcare.

  • Remote patient monitoring – The most popular use of IoT devices in healthcare is remote patient monitoring. IoT devices can collect health indicators such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and more from patients who are not physically present in a healthcare facility, removing the need for patients to travel to providers or collect data themselves.

  • Glucose monitoring – Glucose monitoring has been challenging in the past. Not only is manually checking glucose levels and recording findings difficult, but it also only reports a patient's glucose levels at the moment the test is given. Therefore, periodic testing may not be enough to discover an issue if levels change considerably.

    IoT devices can help with these issues by offering continuous, automatic glucose monitoring in patients. Glucose monitoring systems minimize the need for manual record-keeping and alert patients when their glucose levels are dangerously low.

  • Parkinson's disease monitoring – Healthcare practitioners must determine how the severity of Parkinson's patients' symptoms fluctuates throughout the day to treat them successfully. IoT devices promise to make this process considerably easier by gathering data on Parkinson's symptoms continually. At the same time, the gadgets allow patients to continue their lives in their own homes rather than being confined to a hospital for long periods for surveillance.

  • Ingestible sensors – Data collection from inside the human body is usually a dirty and disruptive process. No one wants a camera or probe inserted into their intestines, for example. However, it's feasible to collect digestive and other systems in a far less invasive method with ingestible sensors. They can tell you about your stomach's PH levels, for example, or they can assist you in figuring out where your internal bleeding is coming from.

  • Robotic surgery – Surgeons can execute sophisticated surgeries that would be impossible to manage with human hands by implanting miniature Internet-connected robots within the human body. Simultaneously, robotic procedures using small IoT devices can reduce the size of incisions needed for surgery, resulting in a less invasive procedure and speedier recovery for patients.

  • Connected contact lenses – Smart contact lenses offer yet another approach to collect health data in a non-intrusive, passive manner. They could also feature micro cameras that allow wearers to snap images with their eyes, which is probably why Google has patented connected contact lenses.

  • Connected inhalers – Asthma and COPD are two conditions that frequently entail attacks that occur unexpectedly and without warning. Patients can benefit from IoT-connected inhalers since they can track the frequency of attacks and collect data from the surroundings to help healthcare experts figure out what caused an attack.

  • Heart-rate monitoring – Even for patients present in healthcare institutions, measuring heart rates, like glucose, can be difficult. Periodic heart rate checks cannot protect against rapid heart rate changes. Traditional hospital equipment for continuous cardiac monitoring requires patients to be permanently tied to wired machines, limiting their movement.

Today, a range of compact IoT devices for heart rate monitoring are available, allowing patients to walk around freely while their hearts are continuously monitored. Although achieving ultra-accurate readings remains a challenge, most current equipment can achieve around 90% or higher accuracy rates.

What are the Challenges of IoT in Healthcare?

Following are some of the challenges of using IoT in healthcare −

  • Data Security and Privacy is one of the most serious concerns that IoT faces. Data is collected in real-time by IoT-enabled mobile devices. However, most of them do not adhere to data protocols and standards. As a result, data stored in IoT-enabled devices is vulnerable to data theft, making it more vulnerable to hackers hacking into the system and compromising sensitive health data.

  • Data Overload and Accuracy: It is difficult to aggregate data for critical insights and analysis due to the non-uniformity of data and communication methods. IoT collects data in bulk, and to perform proper data analysis, the data must be segmented into chunks without being overloaded with precision accuracy.

  • When considering IoT app development for healthcare mobility solutions, one of the most significant concerns is cost. While implementing an IoT application will cost a substantial amount of money and resources, the benefits will be enormous when your company saves time and personnel while enhancing business processes, generating new revenue streams, and expanding business opportunities.

Thus, IoT app development has revolutionized the way healthcare facilities and services are offered. Thus, we can expect a lot more for the future.