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Monday, Aug 17, 2015

How the Internet of Things (IoT) is Revolutionizing Healthcare

Internet of Things (IoT) Revolutionizing Healthcare

Within a few years of its inception, the Internet of Things has had a noticeable impact across many industries, including healthcare. Healthcare technology has advanced in every aspect, be it activity tracking, medication, research, communication or data management. IoT is playing an important role in each of these areas, individually as well as in unifying them into complete solutions.

IoT Applications In Healthcare

Wearable & Sensors

The biggest innovation in healthcare technology in the recent past has been the development of wearable devices and sensors. Both technologies have varied applications, each of which promises to redefine the dynamics of the healthcare industry.

  • Health data collection - Fitness tracking devices (like FitBit), along with health-monitoring gadgets (like sleep trackers), generate real time and regular data. Built-in sensors in everyday gadgets (like activity monitors in Apple Watch) also contribute to this data bank.
  • Medical devices – Gadgets like ECG monitoring necklaces, mobile diabetes testers, and smart Asthma managers help in collecting specialized medical data that is extremely useful in diagnostics, treatment, and even medical research.
  • Digestible sensors – One the most advanced applications of sensor technology in healthcare can be seen in digestible medical sensors. These sensors monitor body systems and wirelessly transmit data to devices like smartphones and computers.

Personal Health

Thanks to the Internet of Things, personal health has not just improved but evolved into a full-fledged dimension of healthcare. People are able track and manage their health through devices and mobile apps. Remote healthcare is now feasible as well.

  • Telemedicine - Remote diagnostics and treatments have benefited greatly from IoT based data sharing and communication tools. These solutions are especially useful for senior citizens and physically disabled people as the need to travel for tests and treatment (to some extent) has now been eliminated.
  • Self-care – Besides health tracking and monitoring, technology has made personal healthcare viable with facilities like communication and data sharing tools with doctors, personalized coaching through software, and virtual health communities.

Data Management

There is a massive influx of healthcare data through new sources like apps, devices, sharing platforms etc. IoT based tools like EHR and HIE help in proper segregation and analysis of this raw data. Cloud computing and Big Data technologies play an important role in this task.

  • Electronic Health Records (EHR) – As the name suggests, electronic health records (EHR) are the digestible versions of traditional medical files. Storing these records in the cloud enables easy sharing and analytics by doctors, patients, and researchers.
  • Health Information Exchange (HIE) – In HIE programs, patient data is collected from various sources and shared among medical service providers like doctors, insurance companies, government agencies etc. It allows for collaborative working and reduces duplication of efforts.

IoT applications in healthcare are increasing at a rapid pace. There is a clear shift towards acceptance of this new technology by doctors and patients alike. Hence, it won’t be an overestimation to predict that, with more sophisticated devices and software, the Internet of Things can potentially revolutionize the healthcare industry.

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