The Internet of Things, or IoT, has become a boon in many industries and organizations. Some of our most important organizations today are the ones specializing in healthcare, and of course IoT healthcare solutions have become a staple in these organizations.
There are amazing innovations taking place every day in IoT healthcare solutions, so below are our five favorites that have become a reality in 2022.
#1 Remote Consultations
Before the pandemic, approximately 0.1% of consultations were remote, either over the phone or by facetime. During the pandemic, that number shot up to 43.5%, and according to analysts at Deloitte, most people are happier with virtual visits than with in-person visits.
This makes sense; it is convenient for many people to take a phone call about an ailment than clearing their entire afternoon for whatever appointment time the doctor’s office has available and having to factor in the travel time and distance to physically get there. That’s not even to mention how much more accessible it makes healthcare for those in remote rural areas who might not have transportation to get there.
Potentially, expanding the majority of doctor’s appointments into virtual visits as an IoT healthcare solution has the potential to save thousands of lives by expanding healthcare into something accessible for any without the means of transportation.
The pandemic has also forced innovation in many ways, and the next step up from virtual doctors’ appointments and remote monitors was an entire virtual hospital ward. This is an entire communication infrastructure set up so that healthcare professionals can monitor treatments of patients without the patients ever having to leave their homes. The Pennsylvania Center for Emergency Medicine has even been trialing a ‘Virtual ER’ as an extension of this concept.
Aside from just turning doctor visits virtual, there have been more IoT healthcare solutions innovated in the realms of telehealthcare. We’ll go over a few of the best ones now.
Wearable technologies have become a very popular IoT healthcare solution for this generation, which includes measures for blood oxygen detectors, heart rate and stress which enables all different kinds of healthcare professionals to continue to take care of patients by measuring their vital signs remotely.
A new system of monitoring and creating alerts for vaccinations are on the rise as well, allowing their development to be safely monitored.
There are also innovations in convenience for medical devices to be used in regular homes; one good example like this is glucose monitoring. For those with diabetes, having to manually check their levels and record the results which can sometimes be a near impossible task when mixed in with daily life – and worse still, the test only reports what is measured at the moment it’s administered.
Automatic IoT devices can address this through continuous monitoring which can alert its user to increased or lowered glucose levels.
#3 Extended Reality
Extended Reality is a blanket term which encapsulates Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. We have blended them all under the title of ‘Extended Reality’ because each one involves a headset and goggles which alter our perception of the world. They have found their hold in technology and gaming but have found great use as an IoT healthcare solution.
Let’s start with VR. Virtual Reality has found use in medical environments as a replacement for cadavers and live patients when training new doctors and surgeons. It has been incredibly useful in this respect, not requiring a supply of fresh bodies to allow doctors to become familiar with the inner workings of the human body. It also spares live patients from being used to train new doctors as well.
Virtual Reality is also useful for therapy – particularly with those who have mental illnesses and social learning difficulties. For autistic people, it has been used to train social and coping skills. For those with mental illnesses, such as anxiety or schizophrenia, VR has been used for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which teaches healthy coping mechanisms and thought patterns, which VR allows to be done in non-threatening environments.
Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality
AR/MR (Which will be combined as they are often blended together), like VR, has many different uses, such as the AccuVein system is a new IoT system which allows doctors and nurses to administer injections more easily by locating veins by detecting and highlighting the heat signature from blood flow.
Another helpful AR IoT healthcare system is Microsoft’s Hololens system which has found usage in surgical theatres, which gives the surgeon information in real time about what they’re seeing.
Outside of the medical professions, there is some usage for AR for normal civilians, such as the AED4EU geo layer which gives its user directions to the nearest automated defibrillator unit which is accessible by the public.
#4 Artificial Intelligence
AI is used in many different fields in the healthcare field, including in scanning through hundreds of images per day, at a rate human doctors couldn’t dream of. This includes X-Rays, CT and MRI scans – all of which can be expertly scanned by a machine for irregularities, with only those which do have such irregularities being passed over to the doctors to check manually. This can save a lot of doctors their valuable time and get the help quicker to those who need it.
But AI is being used in other areas one might not expect – for instance, inhalers are an item planned to become an IoT healthcare system, with them being converted into ‘smart inhalers’, which would monitor people’s lungs, track progressions for COPD patients and supposedly would be able to warn people with asthma of oncoming attacks caused by colds.
Finally, we reach robots. Not the more sentient AI humanoids as hoped for by the sci-fi fiction we’re all familiar with for now, but innovative surgery techniques have been recently created around robots, allowing doctors to perform complex procedures more easily.
How this is done is that small, internet connected devices are placed inside the human body in as little an invasive manner as we have ever managed in medical science, and surgeons are then able to perform surgery without having to make large incisions on the body. This means surgeries are more precisely performed, and those who receive them heal faster.
The future is here, and it’s exciting. IoT healthcare systems have already been readily implemented in many areas in medical science, and there are always new challenges being overcome with the use of new technology. But we can very easily and happily say goodbye to the old way of doing things as the IoT devices mentioned improve our lives, making healthcare more accessible and every condition from schizophrenia to diabetes easier to live with.