Smart healthcare: How IoT can improve health services
June 22, 2020 | 2995 Views
According to Market Insights Report, the Smart Healthcare market's Internet of Things (IoT) was USD 55.5 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.8% to USD 172.46 billion by 2025. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the digital transformation of the healthcare industry as the robustness and capabilities of Healthcare systems worldwide have come under the scanner.
In an increasingly digital world, where every aspect of our lives is driven by technology and innovation, it seems ridiculous to let something as important as healthcare lag behind. The Internet Of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence development, Big Data, and Cloud computing can build intelligent healthcare systems globally.
Pillars of smart healthcare
Intelligent healthcare systems focus on four main components so that patients' needs are met while the efficiency of care provided improves. Intelligent healthcare systems provide better care and support, enhance the healthcare service experience, and provide better control for healthcare providers.
Intelligent Medical care with health data
Competent healthcare is not just a technological advancement. It is an overall development that has made all healthcare facilities information-based. The clinical ecosystem has been information-based for decades, but now the need is to make regional healthcare ecosystems like homes and communities information based.
Making them information-based enables gathering data that can be analyzed and used to improve healthcare systems' efficiency, personalization, and convenience.
The traditional healthcare model followed a disease-centered approach focused on diagnosing through symptoms manifested. The symptoms and the disease were then treated according to the prescribed protocol.
The challenge was that a patient might have a previous history of other diseases or symptoms. Ignoring records entirely could sometimes result in an unwanted outcome. A patient-centered approach focuses on the patient’s past health history, needs, and beliefs. The preferences of the patient are respected in all decisions.
Competent healthcare provides personalized services to all stakeholders in the healthcare system. Patients get to voice their opinion about the medical procedures for drugs and procedures being considered.
The needs and preferences of patients and other healthcare givers are considered in healthcare management.
Prevention is better than cure.
Intelligent healthcare systems focus on preventive healthcare rather than treating a disease after it occurs. This is possible with systems and technologies to ensure regular screening and counseling.
It is now accepted that environment, lifestyle choices, and genetic makeup are also important factors in causing illnesses. Analyzing these factors before any medical issue crops up can help alert people to potential risks and monitor them for incidents.
Preventive healthcare enables people to have a better life and puts less strain on the healthcare system.
Smart healthcare solutions
We have talked about the critical challenges faced by healthcare systems globally. We have also discussed how innovative healthcare should be used to overcome the challenges.
Let us now see how technology can enable us to build intelligent healthcare Solutions:
Operations cost optimization
Labor and equipment costs form a significant chunk of costs in running any healthcare system. Intelligent systems can automate most of the administrative tasks, optimizing time for physicians and clinical staff.
Scheduling apps can further employ this time for more productive work. Innovative equipment, whether lying in stock or being used, can relay information back to their producers, which helps maintain the equipment and predicts breakdown times.
Chronic diseases like diabetes, heart ailments, arthritis, etc., require continuous healthcare interventions like screening, medication, symptom observation, and lifestyle management.
Intelligent healthcare systems manage to automate most of these through health apps, smart devices, health bots/telemedicine, and standardized procedures.
This improves the quality of life for patients and streamlines caregiving cost-effectively.
Ensuring on-time medication for patients has always been a sore point for medical practitioners. Healthcare providers ensure timely medication of in-patients but do not have any mechanism to monitor it for out-patients, except maybe self-reporting, which cannot be very reliable.
Remote monitoring combined with intelligent devices like asthma monitors, connected inhalers, insulin pens, Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuffs, etc., can be helpful in patient drug management. Besides ensuring better patient health, it decreases expenses in the long run.
Because when patients fail to take prescribed medications incorrectly dose at the right time, it can result in more severe and expensive healthcare incidents.
Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring is done via a series of interconnected home-based devices that gather real-time patient data, transmit it to caregivers, and deliver the best possible care based on that. Delivering healthcare at the patients’ doorsteps reduces overall healthcare costs as well.
It is more efficient for caregivers and convenient for patients, improving the user experience. When combined with preventive care, remote patient monitoring enables healthcare decisions that can prevent serious health incidents.
Apps for patients and caregivers
With cloud technology's rising popularity and affordability, mobile apps are being used in every walk of life. People used to technology to make their lives easier are also ready to accept healthcare apps.
Such apps can be developed for patients, physicians/ other healthcare providers. Healthcare mobile apps for patients can report or transmit real-time health data to caregivers for disease management and health monitoring.
Applications ranging from medical alert systems for senior care to virtual maternity care and patient wearables are being developed.
As discussed earlier, modern healthcare systems take a preventive rather than a disease-centric approach to providing care. Preventive healthcare is consumer-centric and needs a customized approach.
Digital technologies can prevent a disease or health condition by continuously monitoring health parameters that help in issuing alerts before the health incident occurs.
mHealth devices worn by the people or carried on their reports or transmit data that is then analyzed to throw up these alerts.
Assisted living is the term used for homes and communities that integrate digital technologies into the daily lives of their residents to deliver continuous and customized intelligent healthcare services.
Assisted living is becoming a global reality with families moving from joint to nuclear and life expectancy increasing. And then why are just senior citizens; many illnesses like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or acute rheumatism require continuous and personalized patient care.
Competent healthcare uses the latest advancements in the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), wearable sensors, strategically placed monitors, and cameras to connect patients with their healthcare providers and caregivers.
Data collection and analytics
Any medical incident can never be treated in isolation. Every patient has a history of medications and health issues, which must be considered when caring for them.
Again, any medical incident is not unique. There are always previous occurrences in other patients and chances that it will occur again in other patients. Smart Healthcare provides interconnected devices that can gather lots of real-time data that can be used.
Rural healthcare system
The lack of physicians, nursing staff, hospitals, and other healthcare infrastructure in rural communities can be taken care of to some extent through intelligent healthcare systems.
Smart devices and applications can facilitate communication between doctors and patients even if they cannot meet face to face. Doctors and other healthcare providers can use IoT devices to get real-time patient data and provide care accordingly.
There is a perennial lack of physicians and nursing staff in hospitals. And research scientists in labs. An intelligent employee management system can help the inefficient utilization of physicians and nursing staff. IoT can help improve the efficiency of clinical trials through better real-time data collection and analysis.
They can also help identify non-fruitful research much sooner than the traditional methodologies, optimizing the research staff's time and efforts.
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