How IoT is Evolving the Health Industry

Ronald Monte | April 25, 2018

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing how we maintain our health. Patients are becoming far more proactive, which is improving patient health. With so many IoT enabled devices available on the market, patients can monitor their health and transmit data to doctors in ways that simply were not available just ten years ago. 

IoT is not only evolving within healthcare; it is growing. A new study by Aruba found that by 2019, 85% of healthcare organizations will have adopted IoT technology. 

In this article, you’ll learn how IoT is helping to evolve and move the healthcare industry forward. 

Reducing Health Care Cost 

A patient’s visit to a physician’s office costs at least $100 and oftentimes more. Plus there are the expenses of travel and time. Since IoT devices can be used at home, they eliminate the need for a doctor office visit. 

For example, Blood pressure can be checked right from a patient’s home. The blood pressure device can then send results to the patient’s doctor. Along with other results such as the latest diabetes check, doctor’s get a real-time, comprehensive picture of the patient’s health. Doctor’s are able to then make an informed decision about needing to see a patient or not. Withings’ Wireless blood pressure monitor is one such IoT device. 

IoT coupled with telemedicine (visits via video) will bring down the overall cost of healthcare. This will not only benefit patients within driving distance of a general practitioner’s office but also those patients who are too far from any GP’s office or hospital. 

Enabling Devices to Provide Real-Time Data from Anywhere

From small devices that patients use periodically to wearables that are on the patient 24/7, such as a monitor worn on the wrist, IoT devices are constantly connected to the Internet and transmitting.

IoT devices work by monitoring specific data sets like blood pressure, glucose, and pulse. This information is transmitted in real-time by using the patient’s home wifi network.  These devices are available now as well. iHealth Smart Gluco-Monitoring System includes the devices needed for glucose monitoring, Bluetooth transmission and a smartphone app. 

One person most every patient will share their data with is their physician. Patients control if real-time data is sent to the physician. If so, the doctor is able to monitor the patient’s health in real-time.

Improved Patient Care 

Many devices in the healthcare industry are not able to transmit their data. It is locked into the device with no way out. This means hospital or physician staff must write down or type in results from such devices so they are available to the facility’s network. This is an inefficient, error-prone process. It ties up staff and data is not going out in real-time. 

IoT provides devices with a method for transmitting their data. Staff is freed up and errors eliminated. This simple reduction in errors alone will improve patient care. 

For some patients, implants will increase quality of life and allow physicians to more closely monitor patient movements and progress. This will be especially important for elderly patients and those undergoing physical therapy. 

Through wearables and other devices, patients undergoing cancer treatments can be monitored from home. 

Because data is being stored in the cloud, facilities that need specific patient data will have access to it. 

Security Concerns 

IoT devices present a number of challenges in making sure they are secure. Networks will need to know about every IoT device, which can come and go many times during a single hour. 

“While there are many challenges to overcome to achieve fully interoperable and secure IoT, the benefits of connected health are promising,“ Alan Bugos, Head of Technology and Innovation at Philips, wrote in an article for CIO Review

A few things healthcare facilities will need to focus on for better security are: 

  • Full reviews of legacy system vulnerabilities since these are now being connected to the Internet.
  • The ability to validate IoT devices.
  • The ability of staff to strictly adhere to cybersecurity protocols.

While the security challenges are clear, the advantages of IoT are as well, creating the always present balance between security and convenience.

Conclusion 

IoT devices continue to evolve and improve healthcare. Because IoT health devices are affordable, integrate with smartphones and are easy to use, patients are able to be proactive with their healthcare. The result is an improvement in health quality and reduction in healthcare cost.


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