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11 minutes read

IoT in Healthcare: How is IoT Used in MedTech?

By Robert Kazmi
By Robert Kazmi
11 minutes read

IoT in healthcare has the potential to disrupt the entire industry. This comes as nos surprise. The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the way we live our lives. And still, IoT devices in the healthcare industry have yet to be utilized to their full potential. The Internet of Things can help transform the way healthcare systems function and the way they provide care

When the Internet of Things is used in healthcare applications, it is referred to as IoMT or the Internet of Medical Things. The global market for IoMT 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 organizations and people all over the world are already embracing IoT technology. While IoMT is still in its infancy, this technology is already being put to good use around the world to help in decision-making, reduce healthcare costs, aid insurance companies, and monitor patients and their health conditions, including chronic diseases. 

Medical 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 features to track your medical data. 

When we talk about the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the healthcare industry, there are many possible angles we can look at. Some of the most common IoT solutions include sensors, wearables, 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. 

Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare Facilities

Let’s begin by exploring the potential uses of IoT devices inside facilities to create a smart hospital. Almost all of these examples combine IoT solutions with medical equipment, and the majority are already being developed or used by different healthcare stakeholders across the world. Your healthcare facility probably uses some of these IoT devices to transmit data and perform remote patient monitoring, allowing them to improve the patient experience.

Bed Sensors

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

Simple bed remote monitoring can help reduce wait times for patients and make the jobs of nurses and other healthcare 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—which is perfect for travel nurse jobs as it requires nurses to visit different facilities; monitor patients’ sleep behavior, and even alert medical staff when there is a problem that requires immediate attention. For patients with diabetes, glucose monitoring devices are one of the best tools that can be added to beds.

Smart sensors in hospital beds can be used to optimize nurses’ workflow and provide valuable medical data. This ultimately helps any healthcare organization provide better care for entire communities. 

Machine Sensors

Healthcare organizations often use expensive medical equipment and machines to perform tests that collect medical data and aid in decision-making about treatments and other important healthcare operations. 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 workflow. 

Smart IoT devices 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 patients get the information necessary to provide them with high-quality medical care. 

Temperature Sensors

Keeping certain foods, medications, organs, blood, and other resources at the proper temperature is essential. 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 patients’ 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. 

Internet of Things (IoT) Healthcare Technology at Home 

What makes healthcare IoT so efficient is that it often does not require patients to visit their doctor’s office. MedTech app development has been booming thanks in large part to the Apple Watch and a host of other healthcare devices that can help track and monitor key biometrics. 

By using IoT in healthcare, doctors can monitor patients remotely with greater frequency so important biometric trends can be spotted early on. It is important that these technologies are completely HIPAA compliant to help guarantee data safety. 

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 information like heart rate, active minutes, the number of steps walked, perform glucose monitoring, 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. They can rest assured that their loved ones won’t be left unattended if an accident occurs and they are unable to call for help. 

Smart sensors can help ease the process of collecting healthcare data. Formerly, patients would need to travel for a check-up, or they would have to regularly check their blood pressure, temperature, or other variables themselves, having to share this information with their doctors. 

This information can now be collected using a wearable IoT device and shared directly with care providers. This advancement optimizes the patient care workflow by reducing in-person visits to the doctor’s office and optimizes healthcare decision-making by providing more thorough and accurate health data.

Connected Inhalers

Most remote monitoring will come in the form of wearables, but any IoT device 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 by providing detailed information about inhaler use frequency and environmental conditions. This patient data can be used to try and figure out what factors helped trigger an attack. If healthcare 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 large industries use in their warehouses and manufacturing facilities. Thanks to the ability of IoT devices to transmit data, smart pill bottles can help patients automatically refill prescriptions that are running low, send reminders for missed doses, and offer other personalized medical support. This is something that insurance companies will definitely love.

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 medical devices can help capture a large amount of health-related data including, breathing, heart rate, snoring, and sleep environment factors such as temperature. 

All of this data generated by IoT devices is sent directly to a mobile 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 the use of this smart technology have been focusing on baby cribs. Smart cribs can help parents monitor their babies with more precision than ever before, helping them find the best times to get some rest too. 

Healthcare IoT and Artificial Intelligence

You don’t have to wait many years before your healthcare facility starts implementing IoT devices for healthcare operations. You can start reaping the benefits today using the data generated by simple IoT devices of everyday use. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, healthcare IoT can perform data mining operations that translate into valuable health insights.

Deep Learning, a powerful AI technique, can be used in MedTech to analyze the healthcare data collected and spot trends before they become widely apparent to human analysis. Utilizing Deep Learning and data mining techniques to analyze the personal data being collected by a variety of remote healthcare devices and sensors will help revolutionize healthcare treatment and disease prevention. You’ll also find businesses that are using AI to make their clients’ lives easier. For example, medical scribe companies like Lindy use AI to capture real-time patient interactions. Since healthcare practitioners don’t have to write in their journals, they can spend it on truly listening to their patients or performing routine tests. 

As the Internet of Things becomes more popular in medicine, guaranteeing data security will become a necessity to safeguard patient data against potential threats.

IoT in Healthcare: The Potential Future

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a fascinating technology, and its possibilities to improve healthcare operations remain limitless. Companies are already working on developing ingestible sensors and nanotechnologies that can help gather patient 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. Insurance companies are also starting to use IoT devices to calculate risk premiums. These will all have long-term effects on patients with chronic diseases. 

Companies like Google have already placed patents on connected contact lenses and other IoT in healthcare technologies. Many other companies are also investing strongly in technologies that use the power of the Internet of Things. This technology has many potential applications for remote monitoring as well as AR and AI. 

The future of healthcare systems is already here and moving fast. The Internet of Things (IoT) can deliver many benefits to a number of healthcare stakeholders, not only to patients. This will bring better decision-making and reduced healthcare costs as well as improved healthcare solutions, including better treatment plans, more effective results, and ultimately, healthier lives. However, it will also bring new challenges like building secure and easy-to-use IoT devices with the right software and the need for a strong commitment to data security. 

Whatever difficulties may lie ahead, now is the time to invest in IoT devices that improve population health.

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