IoT Innovations in Healthcare Delivery

The IoT (Internet of Things) is a system of connected, interrelated, wireless digital devices that collect, store, and send data over a network with no human-to-computer or human-to-human interaction. The IoT promises benefits that streamline and enhance healthcare delivery that proactively predicts health issues and diagnoses, treats, and monitors, patients in and out of the hospital.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, decision makers and government leaders worldwide implement policies to deliver healthcare services with the use of technology. It is essential to understand how emerging and established IoT technology supports health systems in the delivery of effective and safe care.

As healthcare IoT progresses, there is the potential for improved patient outcomes, healthcare that is more cost-effective, and early detection and prevention that limit costly visits to the emergency room or hospitalization. After the pandemic, it is likely virtual care continues to be a central component.

As patients and physicians gain acceptance of virtual care, healthcare IoT eliminates some office visits for follow-up or feedback. Thanks to the collection of accurate and relevant data, greater advancements are likely in the foreseeable future. The benefits are remote patient monitoring, individualized strategies for treatment, and streamlined delivery of healthcare.

IoT in the Healthcare Industry

Before IoT, interaction between patients and doctors or hospitals had limitations that included visits and communication via tele and text. It was impossible for doctors or hospitals to continually monitor patients’ health and make appropriate recommendations.

IoT-enabled devices make remote monitoring possible. They unleash the potential to keep patients healthy and safe and empower physicians to deliver outstanding care. IoT also increases patient satisfaction and engagement as transactions become easier and more efficient for doctors.

Remote monitoring helps reduce the length of hospital stays and prevents re-admissions. IoT redefines healthcare by the providing improved performance and patient experience, better workflow and processes, reduced cost to patients, and improved care and patient outcomes. Healthcare IoT has some challenges. Implementing security measures is critical.

Impact of IoT on the Healthcare Industry

IoT applications benefit insurance companies, hospitals, physicians, families, and patients.

Patients

Wearable devices, such as glucometers, heart rate and blood pressure monitoring cuffs, and fitness bands provide patients with personalized attention. Among the capabilities are reminding patients of the calorie count, exercise checking, reminding patients of appointments, monitoring blood pressure variations, and more.

IoT changes the lives of people, especially the elderly, by constantly tracking health conditions. It has an impact on those who live alone and their families. Any change or disturbance in the person’s routine sends signals to concerned health providers and family members.

Physicians

Physicians keep track of patients who use wearables and other monitoring devices more effectively. They track patient compliance to treatment plans or the need for medical attention. It enables healthcare professionals to be watchful and proactively connect with patients. Data collected helps physicians identify treatment processes and reach expected outcomes.

Hospitals

Besides monitoring patient health, there are other areas in which IoT is useful. IoT devices have sensors used to track medical equipment. Hospitals analyze medical staff deployment at different locations. IoT-enabled devices that monitor hygiene help prevent patients from infection. They help in managing assets, such as controlling pharmacy inventory and monitor the environment conditions like checking refrigerator temperature, and temperature and humidity control.

Health Insurance Companies

IoT-connected intelligent devices provide health insurers numerous opportunities. They leverage data captured through monitoring devices for underwriting and claims operations. The data enables them to identify prospects and detect fraud claims.

IoT devices bring transparency between customers and insurers in pricing, underwriting, handling claims, and risk assessment processes. Customers have adequate visibility to the thought behind decisions made and process outcomes. Insurers sometimes offer incentives to customers who use and share IoT-generated data.

They reward customers who use the devices to keep track of routine activities and comply to precautionary health measures and treatment plans. This helps insurers significantly reduce claims. IoT devices enable insurance companies in the validation of claims with the data that the devices generate.

IoT Healthcare Examples

IoT technology helps connect patients to doctors through virtual visits and remote monitoring, optimizes the process of pharmaceutical manufacturing, and allows healthcare providers to efficiently and quickly access patient data. Some examples IoT healthcare use cases include

  • Cardiac monitors that track patient heart rhythms and record clinical arrhythmias
  • Cloud-based hardware and software that aid in laboratory research and development operations
  • Mobile sensing platforms that measure air quality
  • Wireless remote systems that monitor vaccine refrigerator temperature in health facilities and rural clinics
  • Digital IoT technology in healthcare that aids in producing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines
  • Barcode and label systems that transmit medical data to physicians and other healthcare providers

Healthcare IoT is a complex system that involves computer science, health and medical systems, microelectronics, and more. It changes the quality of life. Integrated tools that bring about positive IoT healthcare solutions in communications, systems processing, and information systems services are likely part of the future of IoT in healthcare.

There is a need for many IoT healthcare applications and technologies in the healthcare field. They play an essential role in remote patient monitoring at home and in hospitals. The use of IoT devices has the ability to overcome challenges like the high cost of healthcare and required hospitalization during treatment.

Conclusion

IoT for healthcare is a growing research area. The developments provided opportunities for healthcare systems to be proactive in predicting health issues and diagnosing, treating, and monitoring patients in and out of the hospital. Technology-supported service complements and replaces traditional health service practices.

Implementation relies on a clear and concentrated code of practice in managing data, cybersecurity, confidentiality, and privacy related to the supply and use of healthcare IoT devices. There are gaps that future research needs to address. Addressing them enables a wider IoT uptake to improve patient-centered care and reduce healthcare costs.