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Using IoT to deliver new models of Patient Care

December 13, 2021 - Parul Saini, Webmedy Team


In the last few years, healthcare has shown rapid growth and transformation. Before the arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT), patients' interaction with doctors was limited to only visits. But now with IoT, patients are better connected with healthcare providers by remote monitoring and virtual visits.

Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices have made remote monitoring in the healthcare sector possible, unleashing the potential to keep patients safe and healthy, and allowing physicians to deliver superlative care. It has also increased patient engagement and satisfaction as interactions with doctors have become easier and more efficient. Furthermore, remote monitoring of patients' health helps in reducing the length of hospital stay and prevents re-admissions. IoT also has a major impact on reducing healthcare costs significantly and improving treatment outcomes.

Role of IoT in the Healthcare Industry

Daily upcoming challenges in Healthcare Industry have created new requirements for healthcare providers to successfully deliver high-quality healthcare services.

IoT with its benefits such as enabling real-time monitoring, providing a more mature and effective solution to collect patient data, and tracking the activities of patients and staff meet the new requirements such as:

  • Clinical information system to provide decision support.
  • Advanced health system focused on modern treatment approach and healthcare delivery system design.
  • A well-structured ongoing care program designed by a multidisciplinary team.
  • Get a better understanding of a patient's medical condition in a series of "phases" and complex care needs.

IoT is helpful in Healthcare at different phases of patient and healthcare system interaction. This begins when the patient makes their call to the hospital for booking appointments or directly visiting the hospital in case of emergencies. From then on, real-time monitoring of a patient's condition to intelligent medical devices connected to a smartphone application, healthcare providers can get required health data that a physician can use to analyze the patient's condition and plan better treatment.

IoT's Applications in Healthcare

Healthcare providers can broadly use the IoT data collected from the app for the following purposes:

  • Enable chronic patients a platform to track, monitor, and quantify their health.
  • Follow good clinical practices, varying from clinical record-keeping to sharing relevant information with the multidisciplinary team.
  • Make available data for health risk assessment.
  • Support continuity of care for chronic patients.
  • Evaluate staffing patterns and determine the composition.
  • Determining clinical trial efficiency.
  • Performance monitoring.
  • Measuring functional recovery in patients.
  • Evaluate diagnostic tests and procedures performed.
  • Checking patient outcomes.
  • Measuring hospital quality delivery.

IoT has brought significant transformation in chronic patient care management and caregiver support that has ushered in a new era of proactive healthcare delivery.

IoT Devices in Healthcare

Well, all IoT devices may not have a sensor, they at least need to have a radio and a given TCP/IP address to allow communication with the Internet. As long as a device has access to the Internet, it can be considered an IoT device. So, every smartphone is an IoT device. A smartphone with the right set of healthcare apps can help you detect diseases and improve your health. Still, a smartphone is a smartphone. Monitoring healthcare is not its primary application. A dedicated healthcare IoT device can do significantly more.

  • Insulin Pens and Smart CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring)

    These devices can monitor blood glucose levels and send the data to a dedicated smartphone app. Patients with diabetes can use these devices to track their glucose levels and even send this data to a healthcare facility.

  • Smartwatch

    Wearables sold at consumer electronics stores come with a sensor and internet connection. Some of them (like iWatch Series 4) can even monitor your heart rate, control diabetes, help in speech treatment, aid in improving posture, and detect seizures.

  • Brain Swelling Sensors

    These tiny sensors are implanted within the cranium to help brain surgeons keep track of severe brain injuries and avoid further deathly swelling. They measure pressure on the brain and can dissolve by themselves in the body without further medical interference.

  • Smart Video Pills

    A smart pill can travel through a patient's intestinal tract and take pictures as it travels. It can then send the collected information to a wearable device, which in turn would send it to a dedicated smartphone app (or straight to the app). Smart pills can also help visualize the gastrointestinal tract and colon remotely.

Summary

IoT has numerous benefits for the healthcare industry. One of the most important benefits is that treatment outcomes can be significantly improved or maximized, as the data gathered by IoT healthcare devices are highly accurate, enabling informed decisions. Health facilities and practitioners will be capable of minimizing errors because all patient information can be measured quickly and sent to a board of doctors or a healthcare cloud platform. AI-driven algorithms running on these IoT devices could also help make intelligible decisions or suggestions based on existing data.

Another great benefit of IoT in healthcare is reduced costs. With IoT in healthcare, non-critical patients will be able to stay at home while various IoT devices monitor and send all important information to the health facility — meaning fewer hospital stays and doctor visits. With detailed information received from lots of IoT devices, health facilities will also be able to improve their disease management. They'll have more data in real-time coming in than ever before. Still, this entails several challenges.

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