IoT has many roles in the medical industry and can be applied in a number of ways: use in devices for patients, medical equipment, and facility management.
IoT (Internet of Things) technology is penetrating deeply into everyday human life. IoT can be a car, kitchen appliances, and even heart rate monitors connected via the Internet into one network where they exchange data. For example, having received data from the alarm clock in your smartphone, an IoT coffee maker will know when you get up for work and brew coffee at your desired time, down to the minute.
However, one of the most promising areas for the implementation of IoT devices is in healthcare. According to a study conducted by analysts from the Aruba Networking Department, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Russia, six out of ten global healthcare organizations are already using IoT devices.
There are several positive trends observed due to this:
Medical staff are becoming more mobile.
The process of collecting, transferring, and analyzing patient data, as well as making a diagnosis, is accelerated.
The effectiveness of medical care is increasing.
IoT Devices for Patients
Patient monitoring sensors are the area where IoT comes in handy the most. Being placed in operating theatres, intensive care units, and post-surgery rooms, these devices will monitor the vitals of patients, and in case of dangerous situations, immediately notify doctors.
Such devices will help not only doctors and patients but also their relatives. For example, if a patient is going to have a difficult operation, an online location sensor can be attached to the patient’s body, to which their family can immediately know when the surgery is finished and receive its results.
Massachusetts company EarlySense has developed a special sensor-based inpatient monitoring platform. They read the patient’s vital signs round the clock, which allows the medical staff to instantly respond to deterioration. In the future, there are plans to equip patients with such devices in cardiology and intensive care departments.
Another good example is a wearable device by UCB and Byteflies, which can predict a forthcoming epileptic seizure.
In many regions, there is still no easily accessible medical care. The transition to telemedicine— interactions between the doctor and a patient online using mobile applications and services— can become an effective solution for this situation. A patient far away from any clinic or hospital will be able to consult with a doctor in real-time and receive the necessary assistance before going to a medical facility.
Medical Equipment With IoT Technology
Monitoring sensors for hospital equipment can significantly improve the quality of medical services. Due to limited budgets, medical facilities can’t afford frequent replacements of necessary equipment. As a result, outdated equipment is in constant need of repairs.
IoT sensors can assess the state of the equipment and inform engineers about defects. This will allow for a quicker response time to breakdowns.
IoT devices can also help in monitoring the condition of the hospital premises. For instance, the sensor will take temperature readings in laboratories, freezers, and wards. If the temperature deviates from the norm, it will be possible to return it to the desired level remotely via Wi-Fi.
When transporting medicines that require a certain temperature, refrigerators with similar sensors can be useful. They will maintain the necessary temperature independently, thus facilitating the work of the staff.
The Role of IoT in Medical Facility Management
The list of IoT technology tasks includes solving the administrative and management challenges of the hospital. For instance, with the help of IoT devices, it is possible to keep track of the number of pharmaceuticals, the condition of the equipment, as well as identify the need to purchase replacements.
The Netherlands is already adopting a similar strategy. The Martini Hospital in Groningen has a network that allows staff to view available equipment and get quick access to patient data. This helps avoid confusion and reduces the waiting time for medical procedures.
Navigation in huge hospital complexes is a challenge for patients and their families. A special application can help them find the required doctor’s office or ward by creating a route inside the building.
Challenges and Perspectives in Healthcare
The advantages of using IoT technologies in healthcare are clear. However, in this regard, the developers face new challenges, like the task of ensuring the safety of patients’ personal data.
Collecting and systemizing information in electronic form will improve doctors’ efficiency, but it is necessary to ensure that only medical personnel and the patient have access to the collected information. This can be ensured in the following ways:
- Data encryption
- Different levels of access to information
- Control over devices that are granted access
Timely support from the government, including support at the legislative level, can solve most of the problems that hinder the widespread adoption of IoT. Additionally, enterprises that don’t have a strong technical department will need professional help in organizing and maintaining an IoT system.