Understanding the Impact of IoT in Healthcare

Dileep Gupta April 4, 2024
iot in healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic loudly underscored the challenges of limited access to healthcare facilities. Millions of patients struggled to reach their healthcare providers and sought remote healthcare options. IoT healthcare devices played a significant role by empowering healthcare professionals to remotely monitor patients, bridging the gap in healthcare accessibility.

The influence of IoT in healthcare has grown rapidly. IoT healthcare use cases are prevalent worldwide, from improved machine control to virtual medical assistance. This cutting-edge technology has the potential to save lives with the help of rapid disease diagnosis and the identification of suitable treatment options for patients.

In this blog post, we will explore how IoT is changing healthcare and discuss some of the benefits, use cases, and challenges of implementing the technology in the industry. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

30% Reduction in overall healthcare costs for business

Where Does IoT Fit in Healthcare?

As the IoT technology continues to evolve, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is transforming the healthcare industry by improving patient health while connecting doctors and patients virtually.

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is a network of connected devices that collect data in real-time.  It is one of the key applications of IoT for healthcare, positively impacting the industry, and can potentially solve medical issues.

Not only can IoMT prevent any upcoming diseases, but it can also cure the ones that have already been caused. The technology has been implemented into wearables so patient health can be monitored easily.

The Internet of Medical Things has divided segments for each medical issue faced by the healthcare industry:

On-body Segment – This focuses on customer health wearables and other medical-grade wearables. Some products used in this segment are Fitbit, Apple Watch, Amazfit Smartwatches, etc.

In-Home Segment – This aims at an individual’s personal health tracker solutions. This segment includes personal emergency response systems (PERS), telehealth virtual visits, and remote patient monitoring (RPM).

Community Segment – It consists of five components: Kiosks that dispense products and provide services, mobility services to patients’ vehicles, emergency response intelligence, point-of-care devices that act like medical camps, and logistics that keep a record of all the medical equipment and goods.

In-Clinic Segment – This segment includes IoMT devices that can be used inside a clinic to provide healthcare services. The medical IoT solutions of the in-clinic segment also provide point-of-care devices.

In-Hospital Segment – This includes various IoT healthcare solutions for several management areas. Asset management monitors, personnel management, patient flow management, inventory management, and environment and energy monitoring are some of the devices in this segment.

If we look into the applications of IoT in healthcare at a stakeholder level, we can witness that the technology is making an industry-wide impact on patients, physicians, and hospitals. To know more, let’s read further:

For Patients

Wearable smart devices in healthcare, like glucometers, heart rate cuffs, fitness bands, etc., give patients access to personalized attention. These devices’ constant tracking ability can have a major impact on people who live alone as it can send alerts to their family members.

For Physicians

Through the mode of medical IoT wearables and home monitoring devices embedded with IoT technology, physicians can track patients’ health more effectively. The data gathered from the IoT healthcare devices can help doctors identify the best patient treatment and monitoring process. This brings together the Internet of Things and healthcare to witness better results.

For Hospitals

In hospitals, IoT is embedded with sensors to track the real-time location of medical enablers and equipment such as defibrillators, wheelchairs, oxygen pumps, nebulizers, and other similar monitoring devices. In addition to these IoT medical devices,  the technology also enables the analysis of the deployment of medical staff at multiple locations.

These Internet of Things medical devices can also help with asset management, such as environmental monitoring and pharmacy inventory control, for example, refrigerator temperature and humidity control.

Through its multi-stakeholder involvement, medical IoT solves several pain points that are prevalent in a healthcare ecosystem such as:

  • Inefficient patient care
  • Medical process mistakes
  • Supply chain management
  • Medical research
  • Rural healthcare management

How Does the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) Work?

IoT products typically function by going through a four-stage process that is carried pragmatically by the medical IoT companies. Each stage is further tightly integrated in terms of data capture and processing.

Fours Stages of IoHT Process

Stage 1: Deployment of Interconnected Devices – This involves sensors, actuators, monitors, detectors, and camera systems that collect data.

Stage 2: Data Digitization – The analog data received from sensors and other devices is then aggregated and converted into a digital form.

Stage 3: Cloud Migration – The data is transferred to a cloud data center after the pre-processing and standardization process.

Stage 4: Insight Extraction – Advanced analytics are applied to this processed data after management and analysis, producing actionable insights.

Also Read: Patient Care in The Age of AI: Understanding The Use of Machine Learning in Healthcare

What Are the Benefits of IoT in Healthcare?

IoT for healthcare is helping the way hospitals attend to the patients. Despite the challenges posed by rapid population growth which are directly or indirectly  contributing to increased illnesses and aging populations, the implementation of IoT healthcare solutions has the potential to address these issues effectively. There is no doubt that IoT and healthcare go hand in hand. Here are a few of the most noteworthy advantages of the Internet of Things listed below.

Benefits of IoT in Healthcare

Simultaneous Reporting and Monitoring

IoT for the healthcare industry has enabled doctors to monitor the real-time conditions of a patient, which can prevent any emergencies like heart failure, diabetes, asthma attack, cardiac arrest, etc.

For example, a patient’s vital signs can be monitored in real-time with the help of IoMt devices, and the data can be reported immediately to their doctor. This is especially beneficial in emergencies where every second counts.

Another example is in clinical trials where data from multiple patients can be collected and analyzed simultaneously. This helps to speed up the process of finding new treatments and cures for diseases.

End-to-End Connectivity and Affordability

The Internet of Things in healthcare applications can allow a better connection and use of the latest technology to enhance connectivity and data sharing. With Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other features, tracking and identifying illness becomes easier and less time-consuming.

For example, IoT can connect different devices and systems within a hospital, allowing for greater care coordination. In addition, IoT healthcare companies can leverage the technology in reducing care costs by increasing efficiencies and improving patient outcomes.

IoT can also help remotely monitor patients with chronic conditions, which can ultimately lead to reduced hospital readmissions. Similarly, using smart pills and wearable sensors can help improve medication adherence and prevent adverse events.

Data Analysis and Data Assortment

The IoT benefits in healthcare involve storing massive patient medical history data. The IoT devices send data to other devices. IoT devices transmit this data to other devices, and while analyzing such extensive datasets may seem impossible, IoMT devices have the power to accomplish this task in minutes.

IoT medical devices can gather, analyze, track, send, and receive data with the help of a cloud base. The cloud base is required as these huge data sets cannot be saved on the server.

Assisting the Elderly

One major area that is particularly benefiting from the implementation of IoT healthcare solutions is the assistance of the elderly. By equipping seniors with IoT medical devices that can track their vital signs and provide reminders for taking medications, caregivers can provide a higher level of care while reducing the risk of hospitalization or other health complications.

Moreover, IoT-enabled devices are also being used to monitor falls and provide immediate notification to caregivers in any emergency. For example, Apple has integrated a fall detection system in its Apple watches that detects if the user falls.

As the population ages and the need for quality healthcare increases,  IoT solutions have become increasingly important in ensuring seniors receive the care they need.

Patients connecting with the hospital staff

Real-Time Tracking and Alerts

Imagine how many lives can be saved with emergency alerts sent by patients. The Internet of Medical Things has made this possible. With the help of smart devices in healthcare, a patient’s medical information is recorded in real time and can be sent to the doctor. If there is any threat, the doctor will be informed immediately and can assist accordingly.

For example, imagine a patient with a heart condition fitted with a wearable device that monitors their heart rate. If the device detects an abnormal heart rate, it could alert the patient’s doctor in real-time. This would allow the doctor to take action immediately, potentially preventing a serious health complication.

Check-Up on the Go

With the help of IoT healthcare devices, patients can easily contact doctors on their mobile devices and get immediate assistance. With the latest IoT medical devices, doctors can identify any ailments on the go while saving travel costs and time.

For example, sensor-equipped medical devices can transmit patient data to a central location, where doctors and nurses can monitor it. This allows for a more timely and accurate diagnosis of problems and the ability to provide better individualized care. In addition, the use of IoT in healthcare can help to reduce the cost of care by reducing the need for office visits and hospitalizations.

Also Read: The Intersection of IoT and Robotics: Transforming Industries and Workforce

IoT in Healthcare Use Cases

The Internet of Things healthcare is used for great work in the healthcare IoT industry. From monitoring the patients to virtually assisting them, the Internet of Things applications are immensely vast and diverse. Here are some of the IoT healthcare use cases.

IoT in Healthcare Use Cases

Remote Patient Monitoring

The most common IoT healthcare use case a custom healthcare software development company works around is remote patient monitoring. The medical IoT devices are built to collect health vitals like blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, etc., from patients who are not physically present in the healthcare facility. The algorithms can help analyze the vitals, recommend treatment, or create an alert.

Reduced Waiting Time

Patient satisfaction is a key metric in healthcare, and reducing waiting time is one way to improve patient satisfaction scores. IoT can play a role in reducing waiting time in several ways. For example, IoT-enabled patient check-in can help to speed up the registration process.

Also, IoT-connected devices can be used to track the location of patients and staff in real time, which can help optimize patient flow through the facility. By reducing waiting times, IoT can help to improve the patient experience and increase satisfaction scores.

Keeping Track of Hardware Maintenance

In the healthcare industry, one of IoMT’s most important use cases is keeping track of hardware maintenance. Imagine a hospital with hundreds of pieces of medical equipment. It would be nearly impossible for the staff to track when each piece of equipment was last serviced.

However, with an IoT system, each piece of equipment could have a sensor that would send data to a central database. The database could then generate reports that would help the staff to track when each piece of equipment needed to be serviced. This helps ensure that all of the equipment is properly maintained and would also help reduce the risk of breakdowns. In a hospital setting, even a short downtime can have serious consequences, so a system like this could save lives.

Tracking Employees and Patients

The hospitals have huge buildings, so tracking where every employee or doctor is at a particular moment becomes impossible. It is the same for all the patients as well. With healthcare IoT technology, tracking the patients and the staff is easy.

This technology also tracks the hospital’s assets for security reasons. It is a highly efficient technology that tracks objects or people without additional cost or effort.

You may like reading: How is artificial intelligence making the healthcare sector intelligent?

Drug Management

With IoT-enabled devices, patients can receive real-time alerts when it is time to take their medication. The data collected by these devices can also be used to track medication adherence and identify potential drug therapy issues.

Moreover, IoT can monitor the storage and transport of medications, ensuring that they are kept at the correct temperature and protected from tampering. By making drug management more efficient and effective, IoT has the potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

Identification of Chronic Diseases

The Internet of Things healthcare technology identifies a patient’s chronic illness. The patient enters his symptoms, and the IoT healthcare devices match it with existing information to identify the disease.

Wearable devices like Fitbit track heart rate, sugar, and blood pressure levels. Healthcare app development for wearables and mobile apps has made people more health-conscious and aware of their medical conditions.

[Also Read: How is NB-IoT Transforming Industries? 10 Use Cases and Benefits]

Examples of the IoT Medical Devices

Healthcare IoT devices are specimens of technical brilliance. These come in handy while minimizing the waiting time for emergency rooms, patient, staff, and inventory tracking, discipline in drug management, and checking that critical hardware is always available.

Healthcare professionals have expanded the reach of IoT in the healthcare sector by enabling providers to offer services beyond traditional clinical settings. For instance, various IoMT devices like home monitoring systems empower patients and healthcare professionals to continuously monitor an individual’s health, reducing the need for in-person doctor visits that are usually costly and require an ample amount of time.

One of the most sought-after IoT solutions embraced by US healthcare systems and hospitals is Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) technology. RPM utilizes interconnected IoT devices with sensors to deliver healthcare providers a continuous flow of real-time health data. This includes information related to vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels.

According to Grand View Research, the global remote patient monitoring system market is expected to reach 16.9 billion in 2030, witnessing a CAGR of 18.5% from 2023 to 2030. The increasing market size can be attributed to the rising demand for RPM systems due to their ability to offer improved chronic disease management and timely assistance.

Examples of IoT Medical Devices

Hearables

The hearing aid has been around for ages thanks to the genius of Miller Reese Hutchison. With time, these devices underwent massive changes and are the ones that turned into IoT healthcare devices that transformed the interaction for people with hearing loss. These hearables are synced with smartphones via Bluetooth. Sounds can be filtered, equalized, and tailored to create real-world sound.

For example, Fitbit has been in the market of wearable healthcare technology for several years. Its latest wearable, the Versa, includes a sleep tracker, heart rate monitor, daily reminders, and on-screen workouts.

Moodables

Stress can often cause declining mental health, and there are times when patients with mental disorders or neurovascular problems need to uplift their moods. Various moodable devices developed by companies like Melon, Muse, and Emotiv claim to improve post-traumatic stress disorder and help patients relax. These devices are mounted on the head, passing low-intensity currents to the brain. These electrical impulses help to alleviate the pain and lighten up the mind.

Smart Thermometers

By collecting and transmitting data about patients’ health, IoT devices can potentially transform how we deliver care. Smart thermometers can be used to continuously monitor a patient’s temperature, providing real-time data that can be used to detect early signs of illness.

These smart thermometers can also be connected to other IoT devices, such as blood pressure and heart rate monitors. This allows for a more comprehensive view of a patient’s health, making it possible to identify potential problems sooner.

Smart Pills

Smart pills are edible healthcare IoT pills that monitor our body functioning and alert us if any anomaly arises. For instance, scientists at the California Institute of Technology have built a mini medical chip that can be used as a smart pill.

These tiny pills can be swallowed and then travel through the digestive system, transmitting data about the body’s condition to a receiver worn on the outside. This has many potential applications, from monitoring gastrointestinal bleeding to detecting early signs of cancer. Ingestible sensors could also be used to track drug compliance by sending an alert if a patient has not taken their medication at the correct time.

One can easily access the data through their smartphones. This is one of the IoT benefits in healthcare, which proves how powerful the technology is.

Insulin Pens

These insulin delivery devices are connected to the Internet and can be controlled remotely. This means that patients with diabetes can manage their condition more effectively and with less hassle.

In addition, insulin pens can provide real-time data to doctors and other healthcare professionals, allowing for more accurate monitoring and treatment of diabetes. The potential benefits of insulin pens are numerous, and it is clear that they are already positively impacting the lives of patients with diabetes.

Bonus Read- How much does it cost to build a diabetes management app like MySugr

Healthcare Charting

Patient charting by doctors requires a lot of time and effort. It’s fascinating to know how IoT is implemented, and doctors can summon a patient’s vital clinical information through voice commands.

This medical charting consists of medical history, demographics, diagnosis, medications, treatment plans, progress notes, immunization plans and schemes, allergies, tests (X-ray, cardiology, radiology, urine, blood, etc.), and the results. For instance, Augmedix helps in medical documentation so clinicians can focus on patient care.

Computer Vision Technology

Computer vision technology can automatically detect and diagnose medical conditions like cancer. It can also monitor patients’ vital signs and track their progress. Moreover, computer vision can be used to create 3D models of organs and tissues, which can be used for surgical planning or to guide procedures.

Zebra Medical Technologies is one company that uses computer vision technology in healthcare. Zebra’s products are used by hospitals and clinics worldwide to improve patient care and outcomes.

Now that we have discussed the applications of IoT in healthcare along with its use cases and examples, let’s move forward to knowing the challenges faced in IoT systems by the healthcare industry.

Also Read: The future of clinical trials – Unlocking AI’s potential to revolutionize healthcare research

Challenges Faced in IoT-based Healthcare System

Even though IoT is helpful in the healthcare industry, it has limitations and challenges. Let us look at the adoption challenges of IoT in healthcare:

Challenges Faced in IoT-based Healthcare System

Privacy and Security

Though the applications of IoT in healthcare are many, we cannot ignore the challenges it is facing. The biggest threat to healthcare in IoT is data privacy and security. The massive data being transferred and stored regularly can be hacked and used against the patient and the doctor.

Hackers can create fake IDs to buy drugs and medicines only to misuse them further. A solution to this pestering issue, however, lies in following the healthcare compliance set up by the government for ensuring prescription safety.

Also Read: How to Ensure Cybersecurity in the Age of IoT

Multiple Devices and Protocol Integration

The IoT landscape is complex, with various devices, protocols, and standards. This can make it difficult to integrate IoT solutions into existing healthcare infrastructures. Additionally, IoT healthcare devices often use incompatible protocols, further complicating integration efforts.

To overcome these challenges, healthcare organizations must partner with experienced IoT solution providers who can help them navigate the complex landscape and select the right devices and protocols for their needs. Only by working with an expert healthcare IT consulting services partner can help medical organizations leverage the full advantage of IoT in healthcare.

Overloading and Inaccuracy

Storing patient data means storing an impossible amount of data. The more data collected by IoT devices, the more difficult it becomes to manage and interpret. This can lead to decision fatigue and incorrect diagnosis. In addition, sensors and other devices are not always accurate, leading to mismatched or incomplete data sets. As a result, it is essential to carefully consider how IoT technology will be used in healthcare to avoid these challenges.

Cost of the Technology

It must be a surprise to see IoT costs in the challenges section. But the truth is IoT can reduce the treatment cost for a common man who hasn’t been able to do it yet. The IoT and healthcare have yet to make things cost-effective, which will take time. It has created a medical tourism situation where people travel to developing countries to get treatment at a much cheaper cost.

The Future of IoT in Healthcare

IoT has much potential, and it’s not only in healthcare. To fully harness IoT’s potential in healthcare, business owners must grasp its benefits, challenges, and transformative impact on medicine, realizing its potential for greater impact than anticipated.

According to Statista, the IoT in the healthcare ecosystem is expected to witness a market size of $93.82 billion in 2023. The IoT healthcare market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 12.32% from 2023-2028, reaching a capacity of $167.70 billion by 2028. The report also suggests that the US will overpower other countries, witnessing a market share of $8,283 million by 2023.

The Future of IoT in Healthcare

The growing use of smartphones, smart devices, and wearables for patient monitoring will drive the market. In addition, the increasing adoption of remote patient monitoring for enhanced out-of-hospital care will also play a significant role in the increasing market size. The world is expected to witness increased investments in digital healthcare technologies within medical institutions and the emergence of connected care.

Even though IoT has challenges and limitations, it will not stop the technology from growing. The need for IoT in healthcare is huge, and it can help the industry immensely. It can reach every patient from all over the world and connect doctors with patients. There is no denying that IoT in healthcare trends has already made a huge impact and is only set to grow further at an enormous scale.

As we can already witness, the medical industry is run mostly by IoT technology, and the time has come when IoT for healthcare will be treating patients in less time and at a low cost. Companies like Google and Apple are trying to make IoT and healthcare successful, and soon, we shall see iOS and Android devices interacting with our medicines.

Revolutionize your healthcare business

How Can Appinventiv Pave the Way to Your IoMT Success?

If you’re looking for a way to incorporate IoT in healthcare, our experts can help. As a custom healthcare software development company, we offer a variety of services and medical IoT solutions that can help you make the most of this technology, from data collection and analysis to system integration and support.

Our experts meticulously analyze your specific pain points, client requirements, and market expectations to create a tailored application that precisely meets your needs. By taking advantage of our services, you can ensure that your IoT implementation is successful and provides the greatest benefit for your patients and your business.

Our IoT app developers are equipped to help you with your app idea, no matter how complex. Get in touch with us today!

FAQs

Q. How is IoT used in healthcare?

A. People can use many applications of the Internet of Things for their benefit. A range of patients, doctors, medical staff, families, and insurance companies can use them to track important data and updates for the concerned person(s). It makes healthcare professionals more keen-eyed about the patients so that no negligence occurs.

Q. How will the Internet of Things (IoT) affect healthcare?

A. With state-of-the-art healthcare IoT solutions, IoT enhances the patient care process in many ways, like:

  • Real-time monitoring
  • IoT smart pills
  • Controlling diabetes
  • Smartwatches to cure major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Monitoring of blood pressure

Q. What is smart technology in healthcare?

A. Smart technology or smart healthcare conforms to modern technology methodology of improving the patient workflow. The technology uses wearable devices with IoT technology that can access copious information with automated responses and catalyze communication between two concerned parties (including people or institutions). With more accuracy and speed, the healthcare ecosystem has benefited from this technology.

Q. Why is IoT important in healthcare?

A. With healthcare progressing rapidly with the help of technology, IoT adds important value to it.

The Internet of Things in healthcare makes it convenient for patients to be watched and monitored carefully. Also, this technology can help come up with preventive measures. The data collected through devices/wearables help in prognosis and diagnosis by a medical expert.

Q. What are the benefits of using IoT?

A. IoT is one of the most sought-after technologies at present. Every field and every industry is looking for the best IoT solutions to augment its growth opportunities. It has many advantages, like:

  • Increasing the scope of communication
  • Collecting huge amounts of data
  • Generating automated responses
  • Monitoring activities and habits
  • Saving precious time and money
  • Improving the quality of life
  • Drives digital transformation in healthcare
THE AUTHOR
Dileep Gupta
DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER
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