The Internet of Things is a very wide concept that pertains to the devices that collect and share information with each other. The cloud enables to record, collect and analyze new data much faster and allows it to stream more accurately. Now, Internet of Things in healthcare offers great promise as its ethics are being applied for improving access to proper healthcare, increasing healthcare quality and also reducing the cost of it.
Various embedded technologies have made their way to applications such as telehealth systems delivering excellent healthcare to people. Let us delve deeper into IoT in healthcare.
IoT in healthcare has bought about an unparalleled prospect for improving the quality and efficiency of treatments of patients. Let us take a look at some of its applications:
Researchers have been testing activity trackers for collecting data related to the lifestyle of patients being treated for multiple myeloma. The activity tracker is worn by patients for about a week prior to their treatment and after that, they will wear it continuously for many months while undergoing multiple treatments. These trackers will aid in recording fatigue and activity level and also appetite. This is great during the treatment of diseases like cancer in which keeping track of the patient’s reaction to treatment is highly important.
Ingestible sensors are a kind of digital medicine. This technology is laced with a hypertension pill and antipsychotic and it monitors adherence. As soon as the pill dissolves in the stomach, it emits a signal that is received by the sensor worn by the patient. The sensor passes on the data to an app on a smartphone. This technology will enable patients to adhere to the habit of taking medicines on time and in the right way.
IoT in healthcare finds another use in this technology that is also meant for monitoring adherence. With the practice of adding sensors to medicines, doctors would be able to keep a track on whether their patients are accurately following their treatment plan or not. As devices are connected to mobile apps, patients receive reminders for taking medicines and so they can track their adherence. Connected inhalers are of great help in treating obstructive pulmonary disease.
With the advent of mobility solutions in the field of healthcare, patients can contact doctors in times of emergency with the help of smartphone apps. This is of great importance especially when the doctor or medical help is many kilometers away from you. Many healthcare delivery chains are planning on building medicine vending machines that can provide drugs based on the prescription of patients via connected devices. This will greatly help in cutting down healthcare costs.
Healthcare devices are known to collect huge amounts of data and transmit in a short span of time. Such huge amounts of data sometimes become a mess and difficult to store especially at times when access to the cloud is not available. Also, when it comes to health care providers, collecting voluminous data from multiple devices and analyzing them becomes a tough job. Therefore, IoT in healthcare devices can easily collect, report and analyze data whenever needed in real time and also eliminate the need to store data. It can happen on cloud and the providers will get access only to the final reports along with graphs. This is less prone to errors and fastens up the decision making process.
A watch brought by Apple can largely help patients suffering from major depressive disorder or MDD. This app is designed for monitoring and assessing the cognitive functions of patients and can excellently report cognition and mood. It can collect both active and passive data.
In the year 2016, Roche had launched a coagulation system run on Bluetooth which can let patients know when and how quickly their blood clots. Known as the first device of this kind, it can greatly help anticoagulated patients who can do their own self-testing thus, lowering their risk of bleeding or stroke.
In the landscape of digital healthcare facilities, Internet of Things in healthcare can pose serious challenges too. Let us see some of the reasons why it can be a daunting undertaking!
Regulatory bodies, as well as users, fear that there can be issues related to the security of personal health information, also known as PHI. As data is transmitted and stored in linked devices there are chances that sensitive data, in spite of being stored in an encrypted and secure manner are not always under the control of healthcare institutions that store them. They do not have control over the data in personal mobile devices. This leads to a significant threat that increases with the increase in the number of interconnected devices.
With the diversity in devices that are interconnected in the IoT network, there stands a hurdle in the effective implementation of IoT in healthcare. With the need to ensure that these multiple devices remain connected to each other and with the presence of multiple users, effective communication becomes problematic. This happens as several device manufacturers differ with each other when it comes to communication standards and protocol. Thus, with such multiple communication protocols, the aggregating process of information gets complicated.
We all know that IoT in healthcare is involved in the collection and aggregation massive amounts of data. This data is used for the benefit of patients. However, it becomes really problematic while deriving insights from massive amounts of data unless with the presence of data professionals and high-end analytics program. With time, it becomes increasingly difficult for medical specialists and physicians to identify insights that are actionable and useful. Thus, with such never-ending data, there remain high chances of slow decision making and low-quality decision making. With the growing amounts of mobile devices linked in the network, the problem only increases.
The level of interconnection of machines is a great boon in the field of healthcare. Therefore, Internet of Things in healthcare can be very useful for providing a lot of healthcare facilities. Various factors that influence human health can be analyzed with the help of this model. It can aid in predicting changing health trends and also allergies of a person giving customized suggestions related to proper physical activities, medicines, diet, etc. However, these devices are not meant for replacing doctors and medical experts, in fact, they should be used to work collaboratively along with doctors and health specialists.
It is seen that the trends in IoT possess the ability to transform the manner in which primary health care is provided to patients. It has bought a new model in healthcare delivery that offers excellent health care facilities to patients and that too at an affordable cost. Research is going on for the introduction of devices that can detect epidemic diseases such as cholera and malaria. All in all, IoT in healthcare is bound to improve and revolutionize the world of healthcare.
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