The Internet of Things in healthcare: Advantages and Challenges

Advantages and challenges of the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare

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 can see widespread adoption of various IoT medical devices. 

In this post, we’ll talk about the main advantages of IoT for healthcare. But first, let’s take a look at some interesting statistics and predictions.

IoT 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 use IoT healthcare solutions by 2019, says a network provider company in Aruba.

  • By 2020, analysts predict that 40% of IoT 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 IoT healthcare solutions in their processes (by Frontier Communications).

  • The number of people who apply connected home healthcare monitoring devices will increase by 44.4% each year.

  • The Internet of Things 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, medical providers are making huge investments into the creation of IoT 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 medical devices for measuring some health indicators, for instance, blood glucose level, pulse, blood pressure, ECG, peak expiatory flow rate (for managing asthma), etc. Thanks to this, it’s possible to detect potential problems without going to the doctor. 

They can just record the results in a mobile app and shares them with a doctor. Quite easy, isn’t it? The plus is that a patient can stay at home if everything is okay, specialists can always access the latest patient data and view progress and statistics and find time for more patients.

2. Receiving on-time notifications

You can adopt smart devices for tracking either patient health, or user daily activities, or the equipment within the organization. What’s more, you can do it in real-time as well as use automatic alerts. If some problems or their signs are detected, the necessary specialist is instantly notified via a mobile app and/or other connected devices.  

3. Providing remote medical assistance

One of the most crucial advantages of IoT in healthcare is that IoT solutions allow patients to connect with their doctors in case of emergency or other important issues. 

Therefore, medical providers can help them remotely which minimizes risks associated with the time required for an ambulance to arrive or a patient going to the doctor. In addition, there are already medical devices that automatically call an ambulance in case of patient health deteriorations.

4. Using patient data for medical research

In the healthcare sector, the Internet of Things plays a crucial role in collecting large amounts of data that can be further transmitted and processed by analytics tools. These amounts of data can be used for creating statistical reports, tracking patient progress and tracing symptoms, and supporting medical research in various fields of the industry. 

As a result, specialists can quickly receive a clear picture of the disease and dramatically improve health management. Only imagine the difference in time required for manually gathering and analyzing patient data and the time acquired by 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 for these issues.

Challenges of using IoT 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 are they and should you 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 

Data security and privacy is the issue of high concern when it comes to the Internet of Things. Smart devices are connected to the Internet and can be hacked in case of non-conformity with data protocols and security standards. So, focus on providing strong safeguards to your IoT solution when building it. 

3. Data overload and scalability

As you know, IoT devices and sensors offer the ability to collect huge volumes of data. On one side, doctors receive a great opportunity to make a deep insight into health data and improve treatment. On the other—it can present some challenges to information analysis and storage capabilities. In addition, if the number of smart devices will grow, the need for scaling will also increase. 

4. Cost of IoT healthcare solutions

IoT software development requires investments, especially if you need a complex IoT solution that consists of a 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 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. 

A plus will be if your IT service vendor will provide you with post-launch project support as well as help you prepare a technical specification. Also, remember about making your IoT solution scalable and secure, it will let you avoid problems in the future.

Closing thoughts

The Internet of Things brings many benefits to the healthcare industry. M2M (machine-to-machine) communications, fast data exchange and analysis, automatic alerts, real-time data, and end-to-end connectivity allow healthcare providers to cut costs and speed up internal processes. As a consequence, we can see how IoT technology is coming with new effective approaches to health monitoring and management. 

If you want to learn more about the topic or want to discuss the idea of making an IoT application, contact a reliable software development company! Having high expertise in this area, we’ll be glad to answer your questions and help solve your business challenges!



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