IoT in Healthcare Expectations for 2020

The Internet of things (IoT) is poised to transform the healthcare industry to the same degree it has changed the way businesses operate and impacted the lives of countless individuals around the world. Data collected from Internet of medical things (IoMT) devices makes it possible to deliver healthcare in more effective and creative ways. Additional information obtained through IoT monitoring devices analyzed with the help of AI applications in healthcare will allow medical professionals to develop more focused and personalized treatment programs for their patients and increase the well-being of the global population.

What is the Internet of Things in Healthcare?

The number of connected devices that comprise the IoT has been growing at a tremendous rate over the last five years and is expected to exhibit even more rapid growth in the near future. It is estimated that the installed base of IoT devices will exceed 30 billion units in 2020 and reach upwards of 75 billion by 2025. The Internet of things healthcare market is forecast to reach $534 billion by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate of 19.9%.

The utility of the IoT is summed up nicely in the words of computer scientist Edewede Oriwoh who stated that “The Internet of Things is not a concept; it is a network, the true technology enabled Network of all networks.” Oriwoh’s quote speaks to the possibilities afforded by the connectivity of smart and autonomous devices to radically change the way society functions in the 21st Century. IoT healthcare solutions are one of the methods in which technology will be used to directly affect the world’s quality of life in previously unimaginable ways.

There are many ways in which medical IoT devices can be used to deliver more efficient diagnosis and treatment options for healthcare professionals. In some cases, these solutions will be implemented in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices. IoT healthcare products are also being developed for use in patients’ homes to allow their conditions to be monitored remotely, eliminating the need for a visit to the doctor or a hospital stay. Devices like the Apple Watch can be used by individuals to track various aspects of their fitness with the goal of living a more healthy life.

Let’s look at what is behind IoT driven healthcare. We will investigate how the technology is used today and the developments just beyond the horizon that will forever change the way the world receives its care.

Factors Contributing to the Use of the IoT in Healthcare

The interrelated technologies of the IoT, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) are elements driving innovation in the field of healthcare. The tremendous amount of information generated by IoT devices is beyond the capabilities of humans to process efficiently by themselves. Fortunately, the information technology (IT) sector has developed solutions to assist in processing this wealth of data.

Artificial intelligence capabilities are being built into systems that provide predictive analytics to businesses across all market segments, including the healthcare industry. Predictive analytics is an approach to data mining that has the following characteristics:
  • An emphasis on prediction as opposed to simple description or classification;
  • The ability to rapidly analyze data;
  • Deriving relevant information from the accumulated data points;
  • Developing tools that are accessible to practitioners in their field.
These attributes are all important to healthcare professionals as they strive to provide the highest level of care for their patients. Combining the data collection potential of IoT smart healthcare devices with the power of analytics capable with AI results in better methods with which to deliver quality care effectively and efficiently.

How the Internet of Medical Things is Revolutionizing Healthcare

Here are some examples of how the Internet of things in healthcare is changing the landscape for providers and patients.
  • Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City has cut wait time by 50% for emergency patients requiring inpatient care with an IoT software application known as AutoBed.
  • The IoT has provided benefits in hospital management with tools that proactively address the problems of failing hardware necessary for patient care. It is also being used to track hospital resources such as staff members and patents throughout a facility.
  • Enhanced drug management is being implemented through the use of microscopic sensors contained in pills that emit signals to eternal devices regarding the correct dosage and usage of medications.
All of these advances in patient care are the result of incorporating the Internet of things into the healthcare industry and developers are just scratching the surface of the possibilities that the technology holds for improving the lives of patients and practitioners.

Trends in IoT Application Development for Healthcare

As the development of the Internet of things in healthcare applications continues to evolve, some benefits will be seen throughout the industry. Here are a few things to look for in the coming years.
  • Smart hospitals that make full use of the connectivity and autonomy available through IoMT devices will lead the way in patient care. Facilities of this nature will become commonplace and the quality of care for patients and work-life for doctors and nurses will rise to new levels.
  • Surgical robotics is already in use to some degree but will assume a more prominent role as the technology matures and makes use of the IoT. The precision possible through AI-guided robots will surpass the capabilities of the most skilled human surgeons.
  • Remote patient monitoring will eliminate the need for many visits to the doctor. The data made available to healthcare professionals will enable them to fine-tune treatment regimens daily.

Security Concerns Related to IoT Applications in Healthcare

The use of the Internet in the healthcare industry is not a new development. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are widely used by healthcare facilities and pose an inviting target for hackers. It is estimated that the cost of data breaches to the U.S. healthcare industry in 2019 will reach $4 billion and is expected to remain a persistent problem.

Introducing billions of IoT healthcare devices will only exacerbate this problem. Each sensor or monitor offers malicious intruders a gateway to a healthcare network where patient data can be compromised. It’s an area of concern that does not present a simple solution and needs to be fully addressed if the full potential of the IoMT is to be reached.

The Future of the Internet of Things in Healthcare

The future looks bright for developers focused on harnessing the power of the IoT to address the concerns of the healthcare industry and its patients. It is very likely that everyone reading this article will be touched by the IoMT at some point when interacting with the healthcare community. The goals of a better patient experience and more successful treatment outcomes will be the result of employing IoT devices when providing healthcare.


Photo: Apple

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