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8 minutes read

IoT in Healthcare: How is IoT Used in MedTech?

by Robert Kazmi
8 minutes read

The Internet of Things, or IoT, has revolutionized the way we live our lives, and IoT in healthcare has yet to be utilized to its full potential. IoT technology can help transform the way healthcare facilities and health systems function and the way they provide care. When IoT is used in healthcare applications, some people refer to it as IoMT or the Internet of Medical Things. 

The global IoMT market is expected to be valued at over 150 billion dollars by the year 2022. This is a major surge from its 2017 value of just over 40 billion dollars. Healthcare providers and people all over the world are already embracing IoT technology. While IoMT technology is still in its infancy, this technology is already being put to good use in healthcare facilities around the world to help aid in decision-making and better monitor health conditions. 

Healthcare facilities are not the only part of the healthcare sector that is already utilizing IoMT technology. If you have an Apple Watch, you are likely already using several IoMT applications to track your health data. When we talk about the potential of the Internet of Things in healthcare applications, there are many possible angles we can look at. Some of them include healthcare facilities, wearable devices, home monitoring systems, etc. Let’s explore IoMT technology in more detail and look at some of the different capabilities this technology provides in different healthcare settings. 

IoT Technology in Healthcare Facilities

Let’s begin by exploring the potential uses of IoT technology inside healthcare facilities. Almost all of these examples of IoT technology are already being developed or are already being used in healthcare facilities around the world.  

Bed Sensors

Tracking hospital beds and their availability is an important tool to have. The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world how quickly hospitals can be overwhelmed and how precious hospital beds are as a healthcare resource. Smart sensors in hospital beds can help track the status of hospital beds around the hospital and help medical staff find open beds as soon as they become available

Simple bed monitoring can help reduce wait times for patients and make the jobs of nurses and other medical professionals easier. However, smart sensors in hospital beds are capable of much more than tracking occupancy. This technology can also be used to track nurse proximity to each hospital bed around the facility, monitor sleep behavior, and even alert medical staff when there is a problem that requires immediate attention

Smart sensors in hospital beds can be used to optimize the patient care workflow and provide valuable health data to healthcare providers. This ultimately helps the healthcare sector provide better care for entire communities. 

Machine Sensors

Healthcare providers often use expensive machines in order to perform tests that collect health data and aid in decision-making about treatments etc. When these machines are not running at their optimal levels, they can provide faulty results or fail to work entirely. Repairs can be expensive, and if a machine goes down, it can create bottlenecks in the patient care workflow. 

Smart IoT sensors can monitor machine performance and track environmental factors to ensure that everything is operating at optimal levels. If preset thresholds are crossed, an alert can be sent to notify that it might be time for maintenance or repairs. Optimizing machine use can help get patients the health data necessary to provide them with high-quality medical care. 

Temperature Sensors

Keeping certain foods, medications, organs, blood, etc., at the proper temperature is essential in healthcare facilities. The most recent example of the importance of storage temperature is the COVID-19 vaccine. Some of these vaccines need to be stored at a very cold temperature, or else they will go bad and be ineffective. 

Smart IoT sensors can be used to monitor the temperature levels of precious resources like medications, donated blood, and more to ensure that they don’t spoil. For some patients, this could be the difference between life and death. If medical staff can be alerted immediately when certain fridges, freezers, or other cold storage areas cross a certain temperature threshold, they can ensure that the items that need to be cold do not go bad. 

IoT Healthcare Technology at Home 

What makes IoT in healthcare so efficient is that it often does not require patients to visit healthcare facilities. Medtech app development has been booming thanks in large part to the Apple Watch and a host of other wearable devices that can help track and monitor health data. Healthcare providers can monitor patient health data remotely with greater frequency so important trends can be spotted early on. This technology is completely HIPAA compliant and has the potential to completely transform the way we administer healthcare. 

Wearable Devices

The wearable technology sector has really boomed lately. The Apple Watch helped lead the way in this trend, but it is not the only wearable technology widely available to consumers. MedTech can utilize wristbands like the Apple Watch to collect and monitor valuable health data like heart rate, active minutes, steps, and more

Smart belt technology is one of the latest wearable technology innovations that can help detect falls in or outside of the home, and alert emergency services that help is required. This technology can be an aid to elderly people who want to remain independent and live alone while also giving peace of mind to their family and friends that they won’t be left unattended if a fall occurs and they are unable to call for help. 

Smart wearable devices can help ease the process of health data collection. Formerly, patients would need to travel to a healthcare provider for a check-up, or they would have to regularly check their blood pressure, temperature, etc., themselves and share this information with their provider. This information can now be collected by IoT wearable devices and shared directly with healthcare providers. This advancement optimizes the patient care workflow by reducing in-person visits and optimizes healthcare decision-making by providing more thorough and accurate health data.

Deep Learning in MedTech can also be used to analyze health data and spot trends before they become widely apparent to human analysis. Utilizing Deep Learning to analyze the health information being collected by a variety of remote devices and sensors will help revolutionize healthcare treatment and disease prevention

Connected Inhalers

Most remote health monitoring will come in the form of wearable devices, but other connected devices can be utilized to provide better treatment for health conditions like asthma or COPD. The insidious part about both of those respiratory conditions is that they cause attacks that can seemingly come out of nowhere without any notice. 

Connected inhalers can help patients and healthcare providers by providing detailed information about inhaler use frequency and environmental conditions. This data can be used to try and figure out what factors helped trigger an attack. If medical professionals can help pinpoint certain factors that are likely to trigger asthma attacks, they can help patients modify their behaviors and actions to reduce the number of attacks they experience

IoT-connected inhalers also have the added benefit of being able to alert users when they leave their inhalers behind. This can help people make more informed decisions about their day and the activities they will be participating in. If you know that you left your inhaler at home, you have the ability to go back and get it before you go too far, or you know not to engage in certain activities that could cause an asthma attack to be triggered. 

Smart Pill Bottle

Smart pill bottles offer individuals the same type of IoT inventory management capabilities that industry uses in their warehouses and manufacturing facilities. Smart pill bottles can help you automatically refill prescriptions that are running low, send reminders for missed doses, and offer other personalized medical support. 

Smart Beds

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of a healthy life. Sadly, many people don’t get the proper amount of sleep that they need. Smart IoT bed technology allows users to track and understand their sleep patterns and environment. These beds and other connected devices can help capture a large amount of health data including, breathing, heart rate, snoring, and sleep environment factors such as temperature. 

All of this information is sent directly to an app on your phone or another device. Users are provided with tips, tricks, and general information about how they can improve the quality of their sleep. Recent developments in this smart technology have been focusing on baby cribs. Smart cribs can help parents monitor their babies with more precision than ever before and help them find the best times for them to get some rest too. 

IoT in Healthcare: The Potential Future

IoT technology is fascinating, and the future possibilities remain limitless. Already companies are working on developing ingestible sensors and nanotechnologies that can help gather data and perform complex surgeries without the need to invade or cut open the body. Robotic surgery has already been used in specific healthcare applications that require incredibly steady hands and lengthy operating procedures. 

Companies like Google have already placed patents on connected contact lenses. This technology has many potential applications for remote healthcare monitoring as well as AR. The future of healthcare is almost here. IoT in healthcare promises to bring better decision-making, treatment plans, results, and ultimately healthier lives. 

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