The Internet of Things, or IoT, is already making life easier and opening up a world of possibilities in many areas of our lives. In this blog post, we’ll discuss one of its most promising and practical applications — IoT healthcare.
In seemingly countless ways, IoT has demonstrated to improve patient care. One such widely used application is IoT-connected sensors on medical devices and hospital wristbands. These sensors can collect patient information that healthcare workers can view in real-time.
Before we dive into the wondrous world of healthcare and smart medical devices, let’s go through the basics.
What Is the IoT?
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a network of smart devices connected via the internet. These devices send and receive data among each other without the need for any user input. As such, IoT technology allows devices and appliances to perform their functions automatically.
The use of IoT devices is becoming increasingly popular, with more than 26.66 billion IoT devices active in 2020.
What Is the Internet of Medical Things?
It is the Internet of Things technology that’s used in the healthcare industry. It consists of medical devices and tools connected to a healthcare provider’s system via the internet. Such devices can collect, generate, analyze, and convey patient and healthcare data.
This system allows exchanging healthcare information electronically or wirelessly, streamlining workflow in the clinical setting, and improving the overall quality of care provided to patients in remote areas or medical facilities.
Benefits of Internet of Things in Healthcare
The implementation of IoT solutions has undoubtedly improved the healthcare industry, so it has become one of the most useful tools medical professionals have at their disposal.
Read on to see some of the positive impacts this technology has on patients, medical staff, and hospital administrators.
Benefits for Patients
Here are some of the positive things IoT brings to those in need of medical assistance:
Continuous Monitoring of Medical Conditions
Remote patient monitoring has been one of the biggest advancements in the healthcare industry in the past few decades. Patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and cancer can now get wearable or surgically implanted devices that monitor their condition.
An IoT smart device can, for instance, constantly monitor diabetics’ blood sugar levels and automatically administer doses of insulin when required.
Automatic Transmission and Analysis of Data
IoT medical devices can transmit patient data they gather automatically, which makes them indispensable diagnostic tools.
For example, patients suffering from heart disease can wear a smart device that monitors their condition while they perform their regular daily tasks. This device provides doctors with all the data necessary to diagnose and treat those conditions properly.
Patients can contact their doctors for a consultation without ever leaving the comfort of their home, as a doctor has real-time access to all the essential data. Smart healthcare devices that enable this type of patient care will become more common in the coming years.
Automatic reminders for medication and appointments are a true game-changer, especially for elderly patients. These devices can make forgetful patients’ lives much easier.
Benefits for Medical Staff
Medical professionals can do their jobs more efficiently and effectively, thanks to healthcare IoT devices. Here are some of the benefits IoT tech has brought them:
Easy Access to Patients’ Medical History
As medical technology grows, it will become easier for doctors to treat new patients. Transferring from another hospital or, even worse, another country used to cause many problems when medical records were kept on paper. But with connected medical devices, doctors can share vital medical information safely and securely.
Easy Access to Patients’ (or Devices’) Location
Another important use of this technology in geriatric care is equipment tracking. It’s common for patients who have Alzheimer’s or dementia to become confused and get lost.
However, if they’re wearing a smart device, it will be much easier to locate them. Medical professionals can ensure people’s safety thanks to patient tracking and IoT healthcare applications.
Quicker and More Accurate Diagnoses
Even the best doctors can misdiagnose a patient. Luckily, some smart devices run complex algorithms that can detect abnormalities, reducing the chance of human error in medical treatment.
Benefits for Non-Medical Staff
(Management and I.T.)
The Internet of Things benefits all healthcare departments, even the non-medical ones. Here are some examples of how managerial and IT departments use this technology to optimize their workflow:
Analysis and Control of Resource Consumption
Every hospital administration in the world wants to cut costs. By using IoT, administrators can track the use of both medical and non-medical resources.
For example, hospital management can track and analyze electricity consumption and decide which parts of the facility need more or less heating, cooling, or lighting. This shows that the Internet of Medical Things isn’t useful only to doctors and patients.
Security and Protection
Hospitals around the world are starting to rely more and more on IoT security and protection devices. Smart alarms, motion sensors, and camera systems are being implemented to increase patients’ and staff members’ safety.
Another great advantage of IoT is that it can help prevent fatal equipment failures. IoT healthcare networks automatically share the data they’ve gathered, including information on bugs or hardware failures, making life a lot easier for the maintenance team. By identifying failures in advance, devices can protect themselves and patients from harm.
Fast Data Transfer
The ability to quickly send or receive patient data can sometimes make the difference between life and death. Having quick access to essential data, such as disease history and allergies, has become the norm with connected healthcare.
One of the most cost-effective IoT benefits for hospital administrators is automation. Some processes can rely on automation, which reduces hospitals’ need for staff. Buying and maintaining a cleaning robot that resembles a Roomba is far cheaper than paying a full-time janitor’s salary.
Internet of Things Examples
Millions of people around the world have become dependent on these devices. People who used to need constant care due to their conditions can now relax in the comfort of their homes while medical professionals monitor their health remotely.
Here are 10 examples of these devices, the illnesses they help with, and the companies that manufacture these medical IoT devices:
1. Apple Watch and Parkinson’s disease
Apple, the third global highest-valued company, has introduced the Movement Disorder API to the Apple Watch. This means the watch can now keep an eye out for early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
If you’re wondering whether wearable technology is considered IoT, the answer would be “yes” since these devices are connected to the internet, and they share data with other devices. When appropriately used in healthcare, smartwatches can help with the early detection of debilitating diseases.
2. Google Smart Contact Lenses and Diabetes
Believe it or not, even some contact lenses are connected to the internet these days. The concept of smart contact lenses was an optimistic one; this new medical technology was designed to measure tear glucose levels, allowing people with diabetes to track blood sugar.
Google partnered up with Novartis for the project, but the suggested glucose monitoring method was quickly discarded as untrustworthy by researchers. The company has since changed the smart lenses’ purpose to treating eye defects, such as long-sightedness and cataracts.
Sensimed, a company based in Switzerland, is working on a similar project: glaucoma prevention through automatic monitoring of eye dimensions.
3. Proteus Digital Health Ingestible Sensors and Hypertension, Diabetes, and Mental Health
A World Health Organization study has found that around half of all prescribed medications are not taken as per doctors’ instructions. Proteus Digital Health has been working hard to reduce that figure.
The company is trying to achieve this goal by producing pills that dissolve in the stomach and send a weak signal to an external sensor. This information then pings users’ mobile app, confirming that they followed the proper consumption directions.
What makes this one of the most impressive items on our IoT healthcare devices list is the variety of patients these sensors can help. Everybody from patients with hypertension or type 2 diabetes to those taking antipsychotics could benefit from it.
4. CYCORE and Cancer
Presented in 2018 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, the CYCORE system consists of a Bluetooth-enabled weight scale, a blood pressure monitor, and a smart health app that tracks patient’s symptoms to gather data and send daily reports to the oncologist, who can alter the treatment as needed.
Users of this technology reported less severe cancer-related symptoms than those who visited their doctor weekly with no remote monitoring.
5. CGMs and Diabetes
Smart continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) have been used in the US since 1999. Internet of things medical devices like Eversense and FreeStyle Libre track wearers’ blood sugar levels and transmit them to a smart device, such as a phone, tablet, or watch.
The devices can then detect spikes and dips in blood sugar and administer medication accordingly. These remote patient monitoring devices are beneficial for parents with diabetic children or those caring for elderly patients.
6. Insulin Pens and Diabetes
By connecting to the patient’s phone using a smartphone app, newer models of insulin pens record data on when each dose is administered, the type of insulin used, and the quantity of the insulin injected.
This data helps doctors determine parameters for future use, increasing the overall effectiveness of the treatment. The most popular smart insulin pen devices include products like Gocap, InPen, CLIPSULIN, and NovoPen.
7. Smart Inhalers and Asthma
Smart inhalers have a lot in common with smart devices for diabetes management. Both provide patients with more insight into their conditions, gain more control over their symptoms, and get better treatment results.
Propeller Health is one of the biggest smart inhaler technology developers in the US. This company doesn’t manufacture inhalers, but rather the sensors that are attached to them. Sensors connect to the user’s smartphone app and track the use of the inhaler.
Smart inhalers have shown to improve patients’ use of the device by helping them follow their doctor’s orders.
8. Smart Monitors and Asthma
ADAMM smart asthma monitor is just what it sounds like — a wearable smart device that detects and monitors asthma attacks. Its main purpose is to recognize the earliest asthma attack symptoms and give a wearer a head start before things get serious.
The device vibrates to notify the wearer and can also send simultaneous notifications to other people. In addition to the early detection of asthma attacks, an IoT healthcare device also tracks inhaler usage.
9. Bluetooth-Enabled Coagulation System
The first smart device for those prone to blood clotting disorders appeared on the market in 2016. Roche created a device that allowed patients to self-administer a test that identifies whether they are at risk of stroke or bleeding.
Like other devices on this list, Roche’s system also transmits data to the patient’s healthcare provider, reducing the need for in-person visits.
10. SmartPill and GI Disorders
Developed by Medtronic, this is an ingestible smart capsule that monitors gastrointestinal health by measuring the temperature, pressure, and pH levels in the entire GI tract. This simple test provides valuable diagnostic information about the entire gastrointestinal tract.
The pill is used to test and treat patients with chronic constipation, idiopathic and diabetic gastroparesis, and functional non-ulcer dyspepsia.
Statistics on IoT in Healthcare
The Internet of Things has had a huge impact on the healthcare industry over the past few years. But don’t take our word for it; we’ll let these statistics do the talking.
1. The global healthcare market size of the Internet of Things was $147.1 billion in 2018.
(Grand View Research)
In 2018, the global healthcare market size of the Internet of Things was over $147 billion. This is a huge increase from $21.7 billion in 2014, and IoT analytics show that the biggest growth has yet to be achieved.
2. The global market size of IoT in healthcare is expected to reach $534.3 billion by 2025.
(Grand View Research)
Experts predict that the industry’s global market size will reach $534.3 billion by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 19.9%.
3. Almost 60% of medical organizations have adopted IoT services.
Almost a third of all medical organizations in the world have already adopted IoMT technology.
4. 73% of healthcare organizations use IoT for monitoring and maintenance.
Most healthcare organizations use IoT to monitor their patients; however, the technology can also help with equipment monitoring and maintenance.
According to Becker’s, IoT patient monitors are used in 64% of healthcare organizations in the 20 surveyed countries. Second on the list are energy meters that are used in 56% of facilities.
5.The global IoT in the healthcare market is predicted to grow to $188.2 billion by 2025.
By 2025, IoT healthcare solutions are expected to become the norm in developed nations’ healthcare. The global IoT use in the healthcare market is projected to grow from $72.5 billion in 2020 to $188.2 billion in 2025.
The use is mainly driven by factors such as advancement in technology, rising demand for self-health management service, the rise of digitalization, and an increase in the overall level of connectivity in the modern healthcare ecosystem.
6. BMU helped reduce wait times for 50% of patients.
Thanks to GE Healthcare’s Bed Management Unit (BMU), wait times for 50% of patients who required an inpatient bed in emergency departments across the US were reduced.
Even though it sounds like it belongs in the smart beds category, BMU actually is a software solution.
7. 89% of healthcare organizations have experienced an IoT security breach.
Of course, security is essential for health organizations, and especially those handling IoT healthcare data. However, with 89% of them that have had a negative experience with security, healthcare data breaches are much more common than similar issues in other industries. In fact, approximately 24% of data breaches occur in the healthcare sector.
8. 80% of IoT users in the healthcare industry cite innovation as the primary benefit.
Becker’s surveyed health professionals across 20 countries, with 80% of respondents identifying innovation as the primary benefit of IoT in healthcare use cases.
9. Increased workforce productivity (57%) and reduced costs (57%) are the most important future benefits of IoT.
When asked about the future benefits they expect from IoT, the respondents were split down the middle on this issue. Roughly half of them said the greatest future benefit of IoT healthcare projects would be increased workforce productivity, while many people believed cost-saving was the answer.
10. The US could save $175 billion on healthcare by halving administrative costs.
(The Virginia Gazette)
By cutting administrative costs in half, the US could save $175 billion in healthcare costs every year. This data can be found in an IoT healthcare case study published in the International Journal of Current Trends in Engineering & Research.
Nowadays, we’re surrounded by IoT devices almost all the time, and IoT healthcare companies are growing rapidly. Our phones, watches, doorbells, cars — almost everything can now be connected to the internet to make our everyday lives easier.
People who live far from their doctor or have limited mobility can now get the best possible healthcare remotely. Parents can monitor their children’s health conditions, and carers can ensure that their elderly patients are getting the treatment they need. We can’t wait to see what more this technology has in store for the future of healthcare.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is IoT used in healthcare?
IoT has proven to be useful in healthcare in several ways, and we have seen that its use is only increasing with time despite some challenges.
The most common healthcare application of IoT devices revolves around remote monitoring of patients, telemedicine, and home care. It is also used to monitor, track, and maintain medical devices, healthcare assets, and even non-medical assets in medical facilities.
However, this is just the beginning, as IoT will pave the way for more innovations in revolutionizing healthcare and changing the way we take care of patients.
What are the benefits of using IoT?
The Internet of Things has been one of the hot topics in the tech world in the last few years. People have already found ways to use it for commercial, industrial, infrastructural, and consumer purposes.
IoT has made its way to the general public, spreading like wildfire, and people have become curious about its inner workings. Now they want to learn more about its applications and the technology’s impact on their daily lives.
What impacts will the Internet of Things have on the healthcare sector?
Since the Internet of Things allows real-time monitoring of patients, the need for doctors’ attention in the hospitals can be reduced, but the quality of care is improved at the same time.
Due to close monitoring with IoT devices, medical intervention can be done before an attack, chronic diseases are better managed, and the risk of diseases like heart attacks can be reduced.
This results in a fully connected and digitized healthcare continuum, allowing seamless processes and communication within the healthcare system. This is why in the next coming years, we’re bound to see an increase in the number of devices connected to the internet.
Why is the Internet of Medical Things the future of healthcare?
Healthcare was one of the first industries to realize the potential of IoT and begin to adopt it. Thanks to a range of cutting-edge devices, the technology is already bringing benefits to healthcare for both patients and medical staff.
It shows great potential in revolutionizing the healthcare industry by reducing medical errors in the field, providing better diagnosis and treatment to patients, giving personalized and targeted medicine, and improving communication and efficiency within medical facilities. This is all thanks to IoT healthcare.