If you visit a clinic or a hospital nowadays, you would feel that doctors and medical professionals have become a victim of split personality. On one hand, while medical professionals are treating and consulting patients, on the other, they are performing mundane tasks of updating data manually on their digital systems.
This is happening because physicians and medical professionals are burdened with the plethora of data that not only hampers their productivity, but also triggers one of the biggest issues of Healthcare, manual errors. Though medical experts are updating all the data into their current systems, they are still facing a problem in improving the care and treatment of antenatal and chronic patients due to the crisis of transparent and simultaneous data.
The consumerization of healthcare has firmly put all stakeholders on top in terms of data. But the paradox is despite the advances in technology, analyzing the data to unearth critical healthcare insight is still a far cry. And that is where the onslaught of IoT can change the game for medical practitioners by enabling automation for effective decision making and empowering patients to take greater control of their health.
Recently, WHO raised a concern that the world will be short of 12.9 million health-care workers/professionals by 2035. Thus, to provide better care to the patients, world needs a technology that enables data automation with secure and interoperable solutions. And looking at the current scenario, IoT has the potential to ensure these issues don’t snowball into a full blown crisis. Healthcare remains a pivotal industry with enormous impact to any nation’s fabric, Internet of Things can resurrect the trend from top to bottom, sweeping across all strata.
By adopting IoT, a whole new gateway has been opened for brands and start-ups that were previously not associated with Healthcare industry. They can now cater revolutionary products and solutions independently or by collaborating with current healthcare solution providers.
To advocate such bold statements made above, let’s look in to the three enablers of IoT that has managed to revolutionize Healthcare and also holds the potential to evolve with the future healthcare demands:
Smart and Connected Devices:
Currently, there are many remote monitoring systems and emergency notification systems (mPERS) prevailing in the market that are based on different IoT devices. Smart Wristbands such as Fitbit, Apple Watch etc. are used to monitor health signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, sugar level and other vital information that can help physicians in treating chronic patients. There are also smart beds used by many hospitals to detect the occupancy of the bed along with additional features like adjusting the position of the bed according to the pressure and condition of the patient without any aid from the nurses.
Then there are POCs being developed which could penetrate the healthcare market like advanced heart monitors and devices to monitor the activities of specialized implants. With such smart devices shouldering the responsibility of optimal care, health values like remote monitoring and patient autonomy may no longer be a thing of tomorrow. It could solve the vital problems of current healthcare scenario such as the problem of interoperability and interconnectivity of silos.
Specialized sensors can be installed in the living space to monitor the health and well-being of the senior citizens. The same technology can be installed in the clinical or hospital premises to administer the mobility of patients during their on-going treatment.
Such solutions have endless possibilities when connected to current healthcare solutions. It can provide vital information that are currently inaccessible. When such devices are connected to solutions without any third-party intervention, it can be easily protected from data breaches and hacks.
Medical mobile applications are no longer a new thing. According to a report, 50% of smart phone users have installed at least one medical app and not only patients, 80% of physicians use smartphone and medical apps for consulting (source). There are applications in the market which provide extended services to the patients and physicians like video consulting, self-diagnosis, study of symptoms etc.
Also, with development of Big Data and generic AI over time, there is a high possibility for IoT applications to be integrated with different healthcare solutions solving one of the biggest problems of healthcare i.e. interoperability.
There is no doubt that Digital Health Industry has evolved overtime. But to solve the bigger healthcare challenges like Data Security and Interoperability which is adversely affecting the healthcare ecosystem, embracing IoT to create holistic changes impacting millions of lives might just be the only alternative. All stakeholders will have to unite under one banner to bring about affordable and scalable innovations to create a healthier environment.
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