At one time, the idea that a specialist in New York City could keep 24/7 watch over the heart rhythms of a patient in Oklahoma was science fiction. Thanks to medical applications of the Internet of Things (IoT), this scenario is now a daily reality for millions of patients and healthcare providers around the world.
The U.S. healthcare IoT market is expected to reach $155.8 billion by 2027, signaling a rapid increase in the adoption of this technology. What are the benefits of using IoT in healthcare? What are the challenges? Here are answers and some use cases that illustrate what connected health solutions can really do:
There are many benefits to implementing IoT in healthcare, including:
Connected medical devices give healthcare providers the information needed to deliver superior care to their patients, especially in the context of chronic diseases. More than 40% of Americans have at least one chronic disease, and a significant portion of those are managing 2 or more. These patients require lifelong care and are prone to relapse over time.
Healthcare providers can use the information provided by connected health devices to spot early warning signs of relapses. They can intervene before their patients’ conditions deteriorate any further.
Scientific research always benefits from more data. The data that IoT health devices collect can be used to power in-depth studies, especially information about how a particular medication, device, or treatment works outside of traditional clinical settings.
When healthcare professionals manually collect and analyze each patient’s health data, they cannot possibly hope to collect enough of it to provide a personalized approach for each patient. Healthcare IoT solutions can automate most of the data collection process, allowing care providers to build detailed health profiles. They can then tailor their treatments according to each patient’s needs.
The improved care IoT devices provide keep patients out of the hospital. This greatly reduces their overall healthcare costs and keeps them productive for longer periods of time. It is estimated that remote patient monitoring using IoT health devices could have an economic impact of up to $1.6 trillion per year by 2025.
There are three major challenges opposing mass smart healthcare IoT adoption:
Connected health devices generate massive amounts of health data for each patient each day. Healthcare providers who have never used this type of technology may find themselves overwhelmed with this influx of information.
A 2018 survey revealed 71% of medical device manufacturers believed that healthcare providers and clinicians are not ready to make use of the data these devices provide.
IoT devices are only just beginning to become commonplace in healthcare. Many patients have never had access to IoT devices and may have difficulty learning how to use them.
The regulations governing the use of connected health solutions sometimes inhibit IoT implementation in healthcare. In 2018, 67% of smart health device companies believed regulatory frameworks would take an additional 5 years to reflect the full extent of what medical devices could do.
IoT devices are notoriously difficult to secure, but healthcare providers are required by law to take every possible precaution to safeguard patients’ health data from cyberattacks. This contradiction has made many healthcare providers reluctant to embrace IoT solutions for healthcare, even when they are eager to explore what these technologies can do.
Medical IoT devices are still evolving, but they already boast an impressive set of abilities.
Five current IoT use cases in healthcare include:
Connected devices automatically generate a pool of data that researchers can draw upon for further study. This data is doubly valuable because it reflects real-world usage conditions, satisfying requirements for regulations such as the EU MDR.
With the U.S. telemedicine market anticipated to top $22 billion by 2022, many healthcare providers are looking to technologies like connected medical devices, particularly to deliver quality care to long-distance patients. Medical IoT technology gives healthcare providers a way to collect precise, clinically useful data from any patient, regardless of where that patient is physically located.
Medication non-adherence is responsible for an estimated 50% of treatment failures and up to 25% of hospitalizations in the U.S. each year. Medical IoT devices can be used to monitor treatment adherence by tracking different data inputs (medication intake, exercise time, calories logged, etc.) at regular intervals. This gives healthcare providers an easy way to verify whether or not directions are being followed.
IoT software can also issue personalized electronic alerts to patients whose treatment conditions have not been met. These gentle reminders keep patients motivated and engaged over the course of their treatment by showing them how easy it can be to positively impact their own health.
It’s clear the future of healthcare will rely on tools like electronic health records and other digitized data. Medical IoT devices continually upload patients’ health data to the cloud, automatically creating a detailed health record that can be accessed or transferred anywhere as needed over the course of a patient’s lifetime.
Healthcare providers can use IoT health devices to continuously monitor specific vital signs (heart rate, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc.), often in real-time. This allows them to provide intensive medical surveillance that rivals or even exceeds the type of care available in hospitals.
According to a 2019 survey, 88% of healthcare providers were considering investing in RPM technologies to support high-risk, chronically ill patients outside of hospital settings.
We are only just beginning to see the full impact of IoT in healthcare. There is every reason to think this technology will become an expected part of quality care in the years ahead. Healthcare providers hoping to future-proof their practices should be looking into solutions to manage a coordinated medical IoT network today.
BioT’s healthcare IoT platform provides a secure, scalable software solution for storing and analyzing patient data. Our system’s many programmable features and additional modules allow users to customize the platform’s functions to suit a variety of applications from hospital monitoring to home healthcare.
Many healthcare providers have already used our software to connect healthcare devices to the cloud and reap the benefits for their patients. See why you should choose BioT to help you implement this promising new treatment modality: Contact us today to book a demo of our platform.