Taking Diagnostics to Another Level: The Potential of Healthcare IoT
With more people starting to actually care about their mental and physical wellbeing, the demand for precise gathering and analyzing of health-related data increases. The Internet of Things opened a lot of doors for various spheres of life including medicine, so the question is: how can IoT help folks keep a sharper eye on their health?
IoT in healthcare is emerging
Many of us have come across Healthcare IoT in the form of fitness trackers, smartwatches, pedometers, and sleep monitors, but there is a much larger infrastructure of tracking devices, sensors, and wearables for inside- and outside-of-clinic usage.
We can distinguish three major spheres of application of the Internet of Things to health diagnostics:
- Patient monitoring — 64% is taken by IoT-enabled tech
- Energy tracking — 56%
- X-rays and imaging — 33%
As we can see, technology keeps on emerging. Which is no surprise: IoT implementation proves to be quite beneficial. According to Aruba’s research on IoT technology, it will increase workforce productivity by 57%, cuts down costs by 57%, creates new business models and improves collaboration between colleagues and patients.
There are some problems to health monitoring IoT
Despite all the benefits, IoT-powered healthcare facility can fall victim to:
- Security breach and malware — with more devices getting connected to the internet, there are more devices that can get hacked or affected by malware
- Human error — since the IoT healthcare solutions are meant to be interacted with, there is a possibility of a patient not knowing how to do that
- DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) — a type of cyber-attack when the high number of requests sent to the data center from other IoT devices causing it to fail.
Nevertheless, healthcare providers are ready to make good use of it. Healthcare IoT development is evolving rapidly, so security can be ensured with more sophisticated software, and human error may be reduced with the proper training.
A couple of examples of Internet of Things applications in healthcare
Let’s take a closer look at use cases of healthcare IoT.
- Cardiac activity. There are numerous companies providing devices for tracking cardiac activity. For instance, Zio XT, made by iRhythm: it is a cardiac activity sensor which is also capable of interpreting EKG data. The patient can wear it for a flexible period of time, it requires no special attention or maintenance and provides the doctors with a comprehensive report for a confident diagnosis.
- Diabetes management. Diabetes is one of the many diseases which does not forgive insufficient treatment. IoT-enabled devices, such as smart continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), are able to track glucose levels and send the data directly to the app on a smartphone so the patient could easily check the info and detect trends. Some of the sensors even have a feature of remote monitoring for doctors. This way they can get reports and insights instantly.
- Moreover, there is also an open-source initiative OpenAPS, which stands for Open Artificial Pancreas System. The main difference from the CGM is that it acts not only as a glucose measuring device, but also as an insulin delivery system. The device can change the levels of insulin delivered based on the individual glucose levels, therefore keeping the level in the safe range. Patients will be able not to worry about their glucose levels being extremely high or extremely low.
- Cancer treatment. Internet of Things brings benefit wherever there is a need for constant condition monitoring. 357 patients receiving treatment for head and neck cancer were testing the smart condition monitoring system CYCORE, which included weight-scale, blood pressure cuff, and a symptom tracking app. The system was regularly sending data to the patients’ physicians, and the patients experienced less severe symptoms caused both by cancer and the treatment than those receiving regular checks with a physician.
The Healthcare Internet of T in healthcare helps to automate patient monitoring, energy tracking, and data imaging. Just like any other emerging piece of technology, it has some setbacks, but the solution to those is just a question of time. More we interact with it, the more sophisticated, polished and secure it will get.