The Internet of Things, a network of wirelessly linked physical objects that share data, has changed the healthcare business.
And remote healthcare is not going away.
Physicians used to make personal house calls to check on patients 60+ years ago. Today, Telemedicine has enabled “house calls” for patients, reducing the number of in-person visits. Following COVID-19, the practice of being able to access medical care remotely was critical. But IoT in healthcare goes well beyond telehealth. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) has enhanced hospital and pharmaceutical operations and boosted data accuracy.
The gadgets that bring Telemedicine to the forefront helps avoid patient infections. In hospitals, IoT gadgets help regulate refrigerator temperatures, speed up emergency care, and so on. Patients outside of medical institutions wear heart rate monitors, blood pressure cuffs, and glucose monitors, to name a few.
These technical advances have been groundbreaking, but we have just begun to explore the IoMT’s potential. According to Fortune Business Insights, that market will rise from $57.62 billion in 2019 to $352.88 billion by 2027.
Use of IoT in Healthcare
Further IoMT development is needed. However, it’s already been expanded to ERs, insurance offices, and pharmacies. So let’s look at how it’s utilized in each of these areas and how it might improve.
ER medical treatment
IoT has dramatically cut ER wait times. RFID tags, infrared sensors, and computer vision capture real-time hospital bed availability data. IoT already speeds up the admission process for patients in the ER.
The same data aids EMTs in transporting patients to hospitals. For example, if EMTs know one hospital is entirely full — they can quickly redirect to another, saving time and potentially saving lives.
Infrared sensors also track the hospital’s blood supply and all kinds of other biomaterials. The information on supplies also helps EMTs decide where to take patients.
Patients receive IoT-enabled ID bracelets upon registration and entry into an emergency department. This enables institutions to assess patient time spent in each step to identify opportunities for improvement in services.
An IoT-enabled badge measures body rates — things like blood pressure, pulse, body temperature, and breathing rate and may be the future of emergency medical treatment. The tag will alert the medical staff if a patient develops a temperature while waiting to be seen.
Patient data is acquired via sensor-based technologies like wearables, biosensors, and mobile apps.
These sensors also identify which medical processes are ideal for each patient. Insurers can then reduce the scope and expense of unnecessary exploratory operations.
Similarly, IoT technology enables medical insurance firms to assess risk and process claims better, and health insurers can enable Telemedicine and virtual visits in their insurance offerings.
Finally, IoT speeds up claim processing. Typical claims are paid by the government, providers, and patients, with the system keeping track of claims and speeding up payments.
Blockchain technology is to be used in medical insurance in the future. Blockchain can expedite underwriting with real-time IoT data. This system would reduce the need for legal documents, saving money for insurance consumers.
The IoMT streamlined pharmaceutical inventory. Industrial IoT sensors help inventory with RFID tags and barcodes, allowing real-time insight into pharmaceutical stock and its movement. This move increased restocking and drug fulfillment, and its use saves the pharmaceutical supply chain money.
Compliance with regulations is a constant thing to be updated. In real-time, the companies monitor inventory via the IoT, helping to document industrial processes.
These IoT procedures reduce paperwork and guarantee fewer errors in accounting and procedural errors.
Smart gadgets in IoT for pharmacy and other medical uses
The gadgets help to dispense drugs and track patient reactions. Smart tablets or ingestible sensors are provided to patients who have problems remembering to take their prescriptions. An automatic smartphone reminder is sent to patients who miss a medication. If a patient still doesn’t take their medicine, the sensor contacts their doctor.
These smart tablets can give patients and doctors feedback on how well a treatment is working and guarantees better compliance with medication — providing better outcomes for the patient. This technique has proven very useful in clinical studies.
Other IoMT uses in pharmaceutical procedures will come slowly due to governmental restrictions, but they will arrive. New techniques to treat patients are likely to improve everyone’s experience.
Healthcare’s linked future
Internet of Things (IoT) has unquestionably enhanced healthcare by providing breakthrough inventions like linked inhalers and contact lenses and the automated insulin delivery systems that are recent win-wins.
The IoMT has enhanced the patient experience. Patients gain convenience, engagement, and reduced medical visits. In addition, providers have improved data, diagnosis, and time management.
The future of healthcare IoT will undoubtedly bring even more breakthroughs that will benefit both practitioners and patients.
Health and healthcare are vital to everyone — not just those who can afford it. We are fast reaching the point where universal healthcare becomes mandatory. Why? Because the people demand it.
Congress already knows this, and so does the current administration. But the will to act is lacking because those who know how the government work realize that the cost will be significant because of government waste. Will IoMT cut down on some of that waste and oversight? Maybe.
But for now, we can be grateful for how IoMT is helping the medical community — and us.
Image Credit: Ivan Samkov; Pexels; Thank you!