How IoT has the Potential to Improve Healthcare

IoT medical devicesThe Internet of Things has applications that range all the way from automated manufacturing, to controlling the temperature of residential air conditioners. One particular area where IoT is hugely beneficial, is in the medical equipment industry.With IoT devices expected to reach 25 billion by 2020, it’s almost guaranteed that a large number of these sensors will be embedded in medical equipment. What benefits are connected sensors bringing to the medical industry, and are there still concerns to be addressed?

How IoT is Improving Healthcare

According to Digi-Key Electronics, a worldwide distributor of key IoT sensors and technologies, the benefits can be found in a number of areas.

  • Dynamically collecting patient data from remote sensors can aid in preventative care by detecting early warning signs of health problems.
  • These same sensors could be used in long term care situations, and especially in post-operative care.
  • The type of signals that sensors can detect are almost endless. Blood oxygen levels, pulse, insulin levels, blood pressure, temperature, and even chemical balances are just a few examples.
  • IoT medication pumps are effective at adequately dosing medications, without the risks of overdose or missed doses that are present when medications are administered manually.
  • With properly designed sensors and monitoring tools, patient input can be kept to a minimum. This means that there is less room for error, but also little learning required by the patient. This offers convenience which is especially beneficial for the elderly and disabled.

(http://www.digikey.com/en/articles/techzone/2014/jul/the-role-of-sensors-in-iot-medical-and-healthcare-applications)

Challenges for IoT Medical Device Manufacturers

Although there are millions of IoT medical devices in use today, there are numerous opportunities for improvement. Before these high tech devices can truly become the standard for in-patient and out-patient care, these opportunities should be met, and all concerns should be alleviated.

  • There is no worldwide standard for wireless connectivity for IoT connected medical devices. The FDA has put forth some strong recommendations, including wireless protocols to use, and what to consider when it comes to interference and data loss. However, robust global standards are necessary for widespread adoption and implementation.
  • Security is still a major concern for IoT devices. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the most popular IoT medical pumps in the United States were vulnerable to hacking, and could even be controlled from a remote source. (http://www.zdnet.com/article/hackers-can-control-medical-pumps-to-administer-fatal-doses/)

Benefits to Non-Reporting Equipment

Although patients will always be the priority in medicine, there are other ways that IoT will help to improve the healthcare system. IoT will benefit even the devices that aren’t required to collect data. Electronic sensors can be built in to critical equipment and can be used to collect usage statistics, and even track and schedule maintenance. With all of the data coming to a central location, it could increase the efficiency of hospitals and clinics, which in turn could reduce operating costs. The obvious knock on effect is that patients would receive better care, from equipment that is maintained to a higher standard. (http://www.msidata.com/internet-of-things-for-the-medical-equipment-industry)

Connected Devices Simply Make Sense

There is perhaps no other industry that could benefit as much from IoT as healthcare. Connected medical devices will free up much needed resources in clinics, reduce the stress and cost for those undergoing care, and will improve the service in hospitals and other health care facilities. Medical IoT recruiting can help to assure that development continues and that good security is in place for medical IoT.

If equipment designers and manufacturers can overcome key security and standards challenges, there is little doubt that IoT devices will be the norm within the next decade, and will be on the leading edge of innovation among the wider Internet of Things. Medical IoT recruiting will be an absolute necessity if we are to keep the IoT area of medicine moving forward.

The Internet of Things is No Longer a Futuristic Concept

The Internet of Things is Already Here

Illustration with word cloud on internet of things in the car - complexity of IoT

Illustration with word cloud on internet of things in the car

When you read or hear about the Internet of Things (IoT), do you imagine that we’re not quite in an age where such a concept is able to be fully realized? Have you ever pointed towards the fragmentation in the market regarding devices and services, or even the complexity of IoT, and questioned how concepts like the connected home could be adopted on a widespread scale?

If you’re still questioning IoT at this point, then it’s possible that you’re simply not looking closely enough. Many of the products and services that you’re using are already a part of IoT.

Microsoft’s Office suite is a connected service on IoT, Apple’s ecosystem is IoT to the core, and even your late model vehicle is likely connected to IoT in some way. In the consumer world, IoT is simply the reality of all your devices being connected; from your game console, to your cellular phone, the computer in your office and on your coffee table, and even your automated home lighting, air conditioning, and garage door.

IoT as a concept was first described over 20 years ago by researchers at MIT. They spoke of a future where devices and sensors would collect and share data. There’s a reason why it is a buzzword today. Data capabilities, the decreasing cost of hardware, and the widespread adoption of the internet have made IoT possible for consumers, businesses, and large organizations across the world.

As a consumer, you’re probably already using IoT today. Your smartphone can connect to your home PC and control it remotely. You can set schedules for you Cable PVR and arrive home to your favorite programs already recorded and ready to play. You can even strap a smart device to your wrist while you jog, while also collecting data on your heart rate, the calories you’ve burnt, and even map a GLONASS or GPS tracked route of where you went.

You can then upload that data to the cloud and retrieve it later. You can share it with other people. You could even send the information to your personal trainer who can observe and advise around your exercise regime. This is what the Internet of Things is all about. For consumers, it’s all about the power of information.

IoT makes life easier. Progression has been gradual, and in many ways low key. This may be why many haven’t noticed it happening. When you used to collect your mail, there was one place where you could do it; your mailbox. Today, your mailbox is anywhere that you go, as long as you have a connected device. We used to bank inside buildings. ATM’s came later, and they increased the convenience. Today you can bank from a smartwatch. You can make payments with an NFC chip without swiping plastic. You can transfer your money from account to account from a Smartphone or PC.

The Internet of Things has provided countless advantages to society. From smarter automated manufacturing, to biometric implants in critical care patients, IoT does more than the average person knows. Perhaps the fact that we already use IoT without even knowing it, is testament to how important, influential, and firmly embedded IoT is in our lives today.