There is an unforeseen change happening in the healthcare industry today. No doubt, Internet of Things is here, transforming the healthcare dynamics totally. From smartphones, to tablets and other wearable devices, the rise of internet connected devices is changing the way of care is being delivered. IoT, an ecosystem of connected physical objects is helping in providing an enriched user experience and the healthcare industry is slowly benefiting from this. The vision of telehealth “anywhere, anytime healthcare” has now set more expectations in the minds of people and fueling up the next wave of innovation in the healthcare industry.
Some quick statistics about the IoT adoption rate
- Over 60 percent of the IoT devices used in healthcare are wearables, and this is expected to increase by 30 percent in the next six years.
- The healthcare market for IoT is predicted to reach $117 Billion by the year 2020.
Electronic medical record is a game changer in this field that has laid roads for digital innovations. The advantages of e-records are many and has created path for newer inventions in the industry itself. Many hospitals adopt EMR system as it provides greater and more seamless flow of information within a digital healthcare platform by integrating medical devices for digital transformation. Compared to other countries in the world, US spends more on healthcare but the country stands outlier when the care cost and life expectancy is compared. The analysis report of world economic forum will tell us how far the US lags behind.
Change is always required, especially when cost of care gradually increase to its peak without making any difference or improvement in care outcome. To cut down this increasing cost, deployment of technology is necessary in hospital practice that also helps in reducing clinical inefficiencies and duplication of services which will considerably elevate the patient outcome meanwhile the cost billed for care will get reduced. For such betterment, integrating the healthcare system with such tools and devices is important to ensure patients cared for better at lesser cost.
To achieve this, wellness promoters and hospitals should conglomerate to bring more opportunities in optimizing resources through automated workflows. Hospital leverages IoT to track patients, staffs and medical devices with real time location services, optimizing patient flow in PACU (post anesthesia care unit) and to measure patients’ vital signs with sensor cinched with hospital beds. Additionally, it also helps in controlling humidity and temperature within operating rooms.
The significance of remote monitoring devices within the patient monitoring space is growing rapidly, as it helps in disease management especially treating patients with chronic condition. As the chronic patient population grows, it will increase the need for disease management program. Let’s say, a patient has multiple chronic diseases- diabetes and cardiac disease as an example, this patient needs to be monitored even outside the clinical environment after discharge to avoid revisits.
Over billions of people are with chronic diseases across the globe who need periodic monitoring but the availability of doctors counts to this disease population is comparatively less. With the ability of sensors infused monitoring and wearable devices, these patients vitals are supervised remotely to detect the aberrant conditions. Information sourced from these devices are sent over cloud to call centers, where clinicians can examine the information, and they will notify it to doctors in case of emergency for quick interventions.
Data Security in IoT- A challenge ahead
The only problem with remote monitoring is security, data is the driver behind all these devices, ensuring secure data transformation from patient to doctor and vice versa is always a big challenge for the health IT vendors. Chunks of data are collected from wearables, cloud based systems helps to store and retrieve all these pieces of information and make it available when required. IoT requires a hybrid cloud to ensure the real-time auditing of network compliance as well as alert of anomalies; includes user access, network traffic, and system errors.
However, healthcare records are more exposed and cyber attacks are now a fact of life. In 2016 alone, 329 breaches has happened and it exposed 16,471,765 records. Technology many bring in lot of advantages and innovations but at the end of the day, all these data need to be secured which is still a big challenge for health IT vendors.