The Internet of Things (IoT) is a way of transferring data between objects (things) using special tools and technologies. The concept was formulated in 1999 and became revolutionary in terms of restructuring global economic and social processes. The Internet of Things helps to reduce logistics time and eliminate the human factor in many areas of social activity.
IoT involves devices equipped with special means of data transmission. These smart devices have made the life of ordinary consumers much easier. There are various consumer applications: smart homes, child control, safe behavior on the road, care for the elderly, and more. However, IoT made a real revolution in the service sector. It has found application in healthcare, transport, agriculture, and industry.
The Internet of Things is widely used in medicine. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is an infrastructure of smart devices, software, healthcare systems, and individual smart services. Smart devices (e.g. smart gadgets, sensors, etc.) collect and process data so that medical workers can check a patient’s health without direct contact with him.
The growth of digital medical solutions around the world allows:
- introducing more effective methods of treatment;
- providing remote patient support;
- carrying out diagnostics of diseases on time;
- preventing outbreaks of epidemics;
- increasing the mobility of medical staff.
Today, many software developers have been involved in the development of new IoT apps. For example, Diversido creates applications for medical personnel. One of the cases is a training course developed by sedation experts. With it, nurses and dentists can practice new sedation techniques.
There are many useful applications to track health in real-time: apps for monitoring physical activity, weight gain control, brain health, and blood glucose monitoring for diabetics. Convenient intuitive design and playful approach make these applications popular.
How Healthcare Providers Can Use Wireless Technology
Wireless technologies make the interaction between the patient and medical professionals more effective. It allows for quick feedback and gives the patient a sense of control over the situation. Devices, gadgets, and smart systems are designed not to replace doctors and nurses, but to facilitate and optimize their work.
One example of this is the new generation of pacemakers. Smart devices today are focused on patient needs, letting them log/track their symptoms and monitor physical activity.
Smart sensors are also used in medical facilities. IoMT helps to monitor the condition of the equipment in the wards and the condition of patients. It can significantly reduce the burden on the medical staff. For example, the AutoBed system developed by GE Healthcare is designed for hospitals. With its help, nurses can remotely monitor the movement of patients, distribute them to wards after admission to a medical facility, and so on. This IoMT solution cuts waiting times by 50%, so patients who arrive in the emergency room get help and treatment faster.
Remote monitoring devices are also common, allowing you to:
- collect data on the patient’s health even before the direct visit to the doctor;
- consult people remotely on urgent issues;
- quickly assist in critical cases.
Portable medical technology is saving the lives of many people around the world. For diabetics, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) has been created. The device regularly takes readings and sends the data to an app on your iPhone, Android, or Apple Watch. One of the innovative solutions is the OpenAPS automated insulin delivery system. In addition to measuring the amount of glucose in the patient’s blood, it also delivers insulin, thereby “closing the loop.”
In general, the range of applications of IoT in medicine is wide. According to analysts, the sheer amount of information they collect could be a real challenge for public health.
Use Technology Properly
New technologies require new capabilities from the healthcare system. First of all, you need to continuously maintain communication between wireless devices. To do this, the hospital should not have “dead zones” where it will be impossible to control the patient.
The quality of communication also depends on IT professionals. They must take care of an uninterrupted signal and uninterrupted operation of the hospital network. After all, the health of patients depends on it. Employees must monitor devices 24/7, collect data, and sort it into critical and non-critical. It is also important to consider all possible ways to connect devices: Internet, internal network, Bluetooth.
Since patient health data is a medical secret, it is necessary to take care of their confidentiality. Sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with all employees. Encrypt PHI regulated by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) with Bitlocker or other tools. Limit access to this data only to those who apply it directly for customers’ needs.
How Is Wireless Technology Able to Improve Medicine?
Juniper Research predicts that healthcare industry spending on wearables will reach $60B by 2023. Soon, they will become a must-have for patient care. Researchers, working closely with developers, will be able to create new ways to manage the health of patients. Developments are underway that will help to effectively fight COVID-19 or even cancer. The main vector of development is aimed at accelerating the diagnosis of diseases and ensuring operational communication between the patient and the doctor.
At the same time, the issues of the Internet of Things in medicine are data security, poor training of specialists, and the high cost of implementing digital solutions. No doubt that they will be addressed and dealt with in the nearest future.