The Internet of Things is about to significantly transform the healthcare industry. If even a decade ago we could only dream about remote patient monitoring and smart health management, now we are witnessing a widespread integration of connected medical devices, IoT healthcare sensors, IoT-enabled analytics platforms, and medical applications.
In this article, we will consider the main advantages of the Internet of Things for healthcare. You will learn how to improve patient care, automate workflows, and reduce costs using IoT solutions. But first, let’s take a look at some interesting statistics and predictions.
The Internet of Things in healthcare: What analysts say
- According to the report by Grand View Research, the size of IoT technology in the healthcare market was estimated at $147.1 billion in 2018 and is projected to increase a CAGR of 19.9% by 2025.
- About 87% of healthcare institutions from all over the world will employ Internet of Things medical devices, sensors, applications, and other IoT solutions by 2019, says a network provider company in Aruba.
- By 2020, analysts predict that 40% of Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and devices will be adopted by healthcare organizations — it is more than in any other industry (by Frontier Communications).
- 60% of healthcare providers have already integrated the Internet of Things healthcare solutions in their processes (by Frontier Communications).
- The number of people who apply connected home healthcare monitoring devices is increasing by 44.4% each year.
- The Internet of Things-based applications can help healthcare organizations reduce their costs by minimizing clinical and operational inefficiencies by 25%, which is $100 billion per year (by Frontier Communications).
The key benefits of the Internet of Things for healthcare
Wishing to push patient treatment to the next level, automate operations, and boost the overall efficiency, medical providers are making huge investments into the creation of the Internet of Things healthcare solutions. Here is how you can take advantage of using IoT technology.
1. The ability to remotely track patient health
Yet today, people are using connected medical devices for measuring some health indicators, for instance, blood glucose level, pulse, blood pressure, ECG, peak expiratory flow rate (for managing asthma), etc. Thanks to IoT technology, it’s possible to detect potential problems without going to the doctor.
They can just record the results in a mobile application and share them with a doctor. Quite easy, isn’t it? The plus is that patients can stay at home if everything is okay, physicians and nurses can always access the latest healthcare data, view disease progress and statistics, share reports, and find time for more patients as a result.
2. Receiving on-time notifications
You can employ connected medical devices, IoT-based analytics platforms, and smartphone apps for tracking either patient health, or user daily activities, or the company’s equipment. What’s more, you can monitor various parameters in real-time as well as set up automatic alerts. If some problems or their signs are detected, the necessary specialist will be instantly notified via email, mobile or web application.
3. Providing remote medical assistance
One of the most crucial advantages of the Internet of Things in healthcare is that smart solutions allow patients to connect with their doctors in case of emergency or other important issues. They can ask for an online consultation, share data with specialists, statistical disease reports, track daily physical activities, and a lot more.
Therefore, providers of healthcare services can help people remotely which minimizes risks associated with the time required for an ambulance to arrive or a patient going to the doctor for a face-to-face visit. In addition, there are already connected medical devices that automatically call an ambulance in case of patient health deteriorations.
4. Using patient data for medical research
The Internet of Things in healthcare plays a crucial role in gathering large amounts of data that can be further transmitted and processed by analytics tools. The received information can be used for creating statistical reports, tracking patient progress, tracing symptoms, and supporting medical/scientific research in various fields of the industry.
As a result, physicians can quickly receive a clear picture of the disease and significantly improve health management with smart data insights. Only imagine the difference in time required for manually gathering and analyzing patient data and the time acquired by IoT healthcare sensors and connected devices!
5. Ensuring smart drug monitoring
Each healthcare organization has a huge consumption of drugs. Since their lack or even theft can cause troubles, each of them is to be traced and recorded. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s rather challenging to keep track of numerous drugs because of people- and paper-based processes. A risk of human errors also arises. So, the integration of an IoT application can become a great solution to these issues.
Challenges of using the Internet of Things in healthcare
Although there are so many benefits of using the Internet of Things in healthcare, the technology presents some challenges. Let’s see what they are and should you be afraid!
1. Different communication protocols
To collect, transmit, and exchange data, multiple sensors, smart devices, and apps have to be joined into a single IoT ecosystem. This means that each of them is to be identified and authorized within the network and connected to the cloud.
What's more, they have to deal with different communication protocols which causes some difficulties (e.g., slowing down communication processes) and has to be taken into account during IoT application development.
2. Data security
Information safety and privacy is the issue of high concern when it comes to applying the Internet of Things solutions in healthcare. Medical devices, which are connected to the Internet, can be hacked in case of non-conformity with data protocols and security standards. Therefore, you should focus on providing strong safeguards when building an IoT-based system.
3. Data overload and scalability
Connected medical devices and sensors are successfully used for collecting huge volumes of data. On one side, doctors can make deep insights into patient information, remotely monitor health, give online consultation, and improve treatment as a result.
On the other hand, IoT technology can present some challenges to data analysis and storage capabilities. In addition, if the number of the Internet of Things healthcare solutions will grow, the need for storage scaling will also increase.
4. Cost of the Internet of Things healthcare solutions
IoT software development requires investments, especially if you aim to create a complex IoT solution that consists of a connected medical device, mobile application, and a web system with integrated analytics. However, it will pay off.
First and foremost, before building an IoT project define your industry-specific needs and goals. This will enable you to get a clear understanding of what functionality you should develop. Secondly, it is very important to find a reliable software engineering company that would make a quality product and meet all the requirements.
It will be great if your IT service vendor will provide you with post-launch project support as well as help you prepare a technical specification. Furthermore, remember about making your IoT healthcare solution scalable and secure, it will let you avoid problems in the future.
Closing thoughts on the Internet of Medical Things
The Internet of Things in healthcare brings many benefits to the whole industry. M2M (machine-to-machine) communications, fast data exchange and analysis, automatic alerts, real-time data insights, and end-to-end connectivity allow medical organizations to significantly reduce costs and automate internal processes.
At the moment, connected medical devices, mobile applications, IoT healthcare sensors, and other smart innovative solutions are bringing us to a new level of health monitoring and management.
If you want to learn more about the topic or build a proof-of-concept for the idea of making an IoT project, contact a reliable IT service vendor! Having high expertise in IoT development, we will be glad to answer your questions and help address your business challenges!