The Internet of Things in healthcare: Advantages and Challenges



Coming up in the industry with smart connectivity and automation, IoT technology helps healthcare organizations cut their costs, enhance patient treatment, streamline various tasks and activities. According to the predictions by the IDC report, by 2020 the global IoT spending will reach $1.29 trillion. 

With the rapid growth of the connected healthcare market, now we’re witnessing the widespread adoption of connected medical devices and applications. 

In the previous article, we’ve described the primary advantages and challenges of using the Internet of Things in healthcare. In this post, you will explore the most valuable IoT solutions that enable remote health monitoring and management. Let’s start our small journey!

 

The Internet of Things in healthcare

The Internet of Things healthcare market is projected to reach nearly $177 billion by 2026. Analysts say that by 2021, medical IoT devices and applications will be employed in various fields of the industry, for instance, inventory management in medical organizations (32%) and patient monitoring (28%). 

 

The use of the Internet of Things healthcare solutions opens great possibilities for telemedicine, remote health control and management. What’s more, now you can find IoT-enabled software that can be applied not only by medical providers but also in everyday life, for instance, wearables, sensors, and connected medical devices.

Top 6 medical IoT solutions for remote health management

 

 

1. Wearables

Wearable devices is one of the most recognizable IoT medical solutions that are being widely introduced in the industry. Allowing to collect and transmit health, fitness, and wellness data, they are irreplaceable for tracking important health indicators. It is noteworthy that wearables are often used as modern accessories, which makes them especially popular in everyday life. 

Statistics and predictions on using wearable connected medical devices in healthcare:

  • In accordance with the report by IDTechEx, the wearable technology market amounted to more than $50 billion in 2019, having increased by 2+ times over the past 5 years. This rapid growth is driven by the emergence and distribution of medical IoT solutions such as smartwatches, glucose monitoring devices (CGM), etc.
  • The global wearable devices market is anticipated to reach more than $150 billion by 2026 (IDTechEx).

Thanks to these connected medical devices, both physicians and individuals can detect signs of disease on time and prevent  health deterioration before it arises. In addition, people can share the collected information (for example, pulse, pressure, heart rate, blood sugar level, etc.) with their doctors, so that they can have a detailed health picture. 

 

Another important application for this IoT solution is offering 24/7 emergency support, which is especially valuable for vulnerable populations. By employing smart wearable devices, healthcare providers can protect the elderly, patients with bronchial asthma or dementia, and others from emergencies. 

Wearable devices are being widely introduced in the healthcare sector. Allowing to collect and transmit health, fitness, and wellness data, they are irreplaceable for tracking important health indicators. It is noteworthy that wearables are often used as modern accessories, which makes them very popular in everyday life. 

Thanks to wearable devices, individuals can detect signs of disease on time and prevent health deterioration before it arises. In addition, people can share the collected information (pulse, pressure, heart rate, blood sugar level, etc.) with their doctors so that they can have a detailed health picture. 

Another important use case for wearables is offering 24/7 emergency support to vulnerable populations. By adopting a wearable device, healthcare providers can protect the elderly, patients with bronchial asthma or dementia, and others from emergencies.

 

2. Remote patient monitoring systems

Remote health monitoring systems have a tremendous potential to transform patient treatment. They can be integrated for conducting medical research and collecting health data on a daily basis. Yet today, healthcare organizations are using IoT medical solutions of this kind for cancer treatment. 

 

For instance, there was a clinical trial where the analysts investigated 357 patients having head and neck cancer and receiving radiation therapy. Specialists used a combination of mobile and sensor technology—a Bluetooth-enabled weight scale, symptom-tracking application, and a blood pressure cuff—for their remote monitoring. 

 

In June 2018, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, the results of the trial were presented. The researchers found that compared with usual care, such a remote monitoring system helps significantly improve patient treatment by reducing the severity of symptoms. Furthermore, they also managed to simplify clinical decision-making thanks to this medical IoT-based software.

 

3. Ingestible sensors

Ingestible sensors are one of the new-age Internet of Things healthcare solutions. These pill-sized sensors that trace patient health after being swallowed are just started to be introduced on the global market. 

Generally, these medical IoT devices are employed for monitoring indicators such as pressure and temperature as well as whether or not an individual has taken his/her medicine. This way, physicians get the ability to track symptoms of the disease and instantly detect health problems.

 

4. Hearables

Representing innovative hearing aids and providing wireless transmission via Bluetooth for communication objectives, hearables help people with hearing loss interact with the world. 

What’s important, these medical IoT solutions can have additional biometric, movement, or proximity sensors assisting a smart device to collect data about the patient's behavior. What’s more, you can embed a voice-enabled virtual assistant so that it communicates real-time insights and other data to users.

 

5. Moodables

Moodables are head-mounted wearable devices sending a small electric current to the users’ brain which enhances their mood. Being able to provide bioelectronic therapy, they are successfully employed for nervous system improvement and depression treatment.

In speaking of the real-life examples of using the Internet of Things healthcare solutions, Thync company is already creating advanced ways of treatment for mental health and autoimmune disorders like psoriasis. 

Halo Neuroscience is also working on adopting technological innovations. Their Halo Sport brain stimulator enables people to faster develop muscle memory and train more efficiently.

 

6. Electronic health record

Electronic health record (EHR) is another popular medical IoT solution. Representing a real-time digital record of patient information, an EHR system aims to ensure instant availability and high accuracy of medical charts. 

EHRs enable organizations to significantly reduce paperwork and facilitate the work of physicians and nurses. In addition, they receive the ability to exchange data with different healthcare organizations in order to have a full picture of patient health status on a PC or smartphone. 

Thanks to EHR software development, the required specialists can be automatically notified about any missing or inaccurate piece of information. Furthermore, it removes the risk of human errors and medical charts’ losses.

 

Final thoughts on the Internet of Things in healthcare

Medical IoT solutions provide multiple benefits, from workflow automation and human error minimization to reduced paperwork and remote health control. There are many new smart medical devices that are being released on the market including smart pills, smart inhalers, mobile glucose meters, and a lot more. 

 

Working in conjunction with mobile apps, data analytics platforms, and web portals, they are bringing us in the new age of patient treatment. By using Internet of Medical Things software such as IoT healthcare sensors, connected medical devices, and electronic health record systems, you will be able to:

  • Improve patient treatment due to data accuracy, minimized errors, improved disease control, and detailed statistical reports.
  • Relieve physicians and nurses from large amounts of work, which will result in significantly increased productivity.
  • Help a lot more patients thanks to virtual conferences, online recommendations, and remote health monitoring software.
  • Enhance a reporting system due to detailed health information, constant data exchange between patients and doctors, and enhanced symptom tracking.

 

If you have questions about the Internet of Things in healthcare, feel free to leave your comments below. In case you are thinking about building your own IoT project, you can apply to a specialized software engineering house that will help you define the requirements, prove your ideas, and bring them into reality!

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