The ageing population, COVID-19 crisis, and the growing number of chronic diseases are among the reasons why the healthcare industry often struggles to satisfy the ever-growing demand. Hospitals cannot treat all of the patients that need the treatment. The industry calls for some assistance.
Technology in general and the Internet of Things, in particular, can become such an aid. They are expected to transform the healthcare industry and make it more accessible. The Internet of medical things can move the lion’s share of medical examinations from hospitals to patients’ homes.
So, how to benefit from the Internet of medical things and adopt it successfully, and what are the most popular use cases of medical IoT? Let’s find out together.
Benefits of IoT in healthcare
The IoMT market is rapidly growing. According to Statista, the IoT in healthcare is expected to grow from $50.3B in 2020 to $136B by 2025, at a CAGR of 21.0% during the forecast period.
The primary reason for this is that IoT offers a wide range of benefits critical for healthcare. They are, for instance, end-to-end connectivity, remote access, alerting, and others. Let’s view them in more detail.
IoT in healthcare enables machine-to-machine communication and prompt data exchange that makes healthcare service delivery more efficient. Also, modern protocols, such as Bluetooth LE, WiFi, Z-wave, ZigBee, and others, change the ways and speed of spotting illnesses.
As a result, end-to-end connectivity realized due to medical IoT can reduce unnecessary doctor visits, thus reducing healthcare expenses.
Tracking and alerts
Internet of Things in healthcare enables real-time alerting, tracking, and monitoring, which, in turn, results in better accuracy and improvement of patient care results.
Tracking and on-time alerting are critical in healthcare. Medical Internet of Things devices gather vital signs of patients and transfer this data to the doctors. In case some signs change that poses a threat to the patient’s health or life, medics get the alert that prevents the health condition from worsening. Reports and alerts help doctors make well-informed decisions and treat a patient at risk timely.
Remote medical assistance
Due to the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), patients can measure their health parameters by themselves. The information can be shared with a doctor who is far away via a mobile application. With the help of mobility solutions, the medics can check the patient's vitals and make a diagnosis remotely. As a result, the treatment gets more effective and quicker.
From the long-term perspective, the system is expected to work in a complex network of hospitals all around the globe. So, if a local doctor cannot help, a patient can continue their treatment from another country.
As a result, mortality rates can be decreased using remote IoMT.
All the healthcare equipment should comply with specific standards and undergo regular inspection. Preventive maintenance, in turn, helps avoid service interruption due to missing service checks. CMMS, smart QR code scanners, and GPS tracking technology help notify, find, and plan the assessment of devices such as bladder scanners, blood pressure monitors, wheelchairs, and defibrillators, which are due for inspection or repair.
Learn more about preventive maintenance in healthcare and other industries
Despite the benefits of the Internet of Things in healthcare, there are also some challenges. Let’s view these challenges and ways to address them.
Challenges of IoT in healthcare
Security and privacy
IoT security is one of the most critical challenges when it comes to the application of this technology in healthcare. So, you should take all the security measures possible. For instance, secure network protocols, such as message-passing protocol, point-to-point encryption, and security certificates, are critical for ensuring security.
Solution: To address this challenge, choose a vendor with an established security policy, the one that complies with all the key Infosecurity regulations, including HIPAA.
The amount of data that IoT devices collect in healthcare can be overwhelming. At the same time, the patients’ data needs to be protected within the system that brings us to the previous point.
As a result of huge data piles, drawing conclusions has become a real problem. With the increase in the number of devices, the process of analysis and decision-making becomes more difficult.
Solution: Partner with the vendor that has extensive data expertise.
Specific testing requirements
The healthcare industry calls for high-precision solutions. So, there are more testing requirements in this industry than in others. For instance, there is a dire need for automated testing regarding medical IoT solutions development.
Solution: Choose a vendor that has expertise in automated testing.
Limited device resources
Medical devices typically have limited ROM and weak processors. At the same time, devices need to be responsive and have high performance.
Solution: Find a vendor with long-standing expertise in IoT, which can solve the challenges of a limited resources environment and streamline the testing processes.
However, the question remains: how to implement IoT in healthcare? What are the main use cases that can transform the industry? Let’s find out.
IoT in healthcare: use cases
The use of the Internet of Things in healthcare has advanced dramatically over recent years. The medical IoT puts devices like smart insulin pens, connected inhalers, asthma monitors, etc., in the hands of everyday consumers. The technology allows patients to both address their health needs and access help in case of emergency.
Though the potential of the medical Internet of Things is yet to be fully unveiled, let’s view the four popular applications in more detail.
Smart technology and connected devices enable the creation of hospitals ‘without walls’. This means that in such hospitals, outpatient and long-term care can be delivered remotely. As a result, more and more patients can be treated in the comfort of their own homes, freeing up bed space for those who need more intensive care.
There are many factors that can bottleneck the delivery of emergency care, as it requires a combination of multiple factors. For instance, the availability of healthcare professionals nearby, beds, medical equipment, medicine, etc. Any delay can have an unfortunate ripple effect.
As speed is of the essence, in this case, IoT is widely used in emergency care. Let’s take a look at one of the IoT devices used in healthcare. It is the smart defibrillator MEDUCORE Standard² that N-iX experts develop with the medical technology company Weinmann Emergency. It takes no longer than ten seconds from the device launch to the defibrillation process.
What’s more, the device can also perform EKG, measure blood pressure, saturation, and more. After that, the defibrillator analyzes these measurements and suggests whether or not to defibrillate a patient. In the new software version, our experts added Bluetooth connectivity, which allows the device to connect with the printer to print out cardiograms.
Wearable sensors enable the operation of virtual hospitals, disease prevention, and disease detection. These small devices, worn on the body, monitor vital signs, including temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate. They provide doctors with insights into the progression or early onset of an illness.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated telehealth innovation. With the help of video conferences, doctors could monitor and treat patients remotely, avoiding in-person visits to the doctor's office. Due to medical telehealth, many office visits for routine follow-up can be eliminated.
The device we mentioned earlier - MEDUCORE Standard² can also be used for telehealth. It connects to WiFi access points and uploads the patients’ data to the telemetry server securely. The device creates a PDF file with the cardiogram and sends it via email. The MEDUCORE Standard² has an address book of doctors’ emails, and the paramedic can choose whom to send an EKG of a certain patient. This, in turn, allows the doctor to consult remotely and speed up the treatment process.
Why entrust medical IoT to N-iX?
- N-iX has a long-standing IoT expertise in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and energy;
- Our experts provide a full life-cycle of IoT-related services, such as gateway development, cloud adoption, and connectivity solutions;
- Our technology portfolio includes the successful delivery of projects like Weinmann Emergency, Locinox, Fluke, and a number of others;
- N-iX specialists have profound knowledge of C/C++ programming languages which are commonly used in IoT systems development;
- Your security is our top priority - we comply with all required Infosecurity regulations, including PCI DSS, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, GDPR, as well as HIPAA, critical for healthcare.