The medical world is undergoing a transformation. Healthcare trends such as remote health monitoring, self-health management and an ever-increasing level of connectivity are reshaping the face of the industry and what’s most important, improving patient experience.
We selected 5 exciting IoT cases in healthcare that came surfing in on those trends: From doctors taking consultations 100 miles away to pills containing microscopic sensors sending signals while travelling through your body. The future is now.
1. Remote healthcare
We already touched upon the subject in key IoT Trends 2020. Isn’t it odd that we can track a FedEx package 24/7 but doctors don’t know how their patients are doing through most of the year?
Now, that is about to change. Tyto care is the healthcare industry's first all-in-one modular examination device that enables remote physical exams of the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat and abdomen, as well as measuring body temperature and heart rate.
After the U.S. and Israel, Britain is the first European country to implement it. As of December 2019, Bradford Teaching Hospitals is using the device to carry out remote examinations and diagnoses with a cohort of young patients, with acute and worsening chronic conditions. During a virtual consultation, clinical visual and audio data is captured by the device and sent to a clinician to be assessed.
There are heaps of advantages to this remote health monitoring. Not only does it allow doctors to follow up on their patients more closely, they can also deliver a full examination and one-to-one consultation at a later time or date. That makes their agenda a lot more flexible. For patients, doctors’ appointments finishing late no longer means spending countless hours in the waiting room reading stuffy, old magazines. You don’t even have to go through the hassle of going to the hospital at all. The whole system links to local pharmacies where a prescription can be ordered. That means the patients can be managed entirely in their own home.
2. Health trackers
Remember playing doctor dragging a little first aid kit around? We might have grown up, but we still love playing doctor. Only now we are using wearable health technology.
You already know the fitness trackers like Fitbit that can track your activities and sleep. With Move ECG smartwatch, you can even make medical-grade ECGs (electrocardiograms). The device can detect atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib. Atrial what? It’s the most common heart rhythm disorder. In a world where AFib is thought to be responsible for up to 30% of strokes, Move ECG is like a gift from the gods. No wonder it won the award for best wearable at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show.
3. Predictive maintenance
We already mentioned it in our article IoT Trends 2020, IoT devices can keep track of the wear and tear of medical machinery and sound the alarm before maintenance is needed. This way maintenance can be scheduled when convenient. As in health in general, prevention is always better than cure.
In a world where lives depend on next-gen machinery, you can imagine the sheer impact of equipment failures. And even when the equipment is not critical to your health, nobody likes to go through the trouble of going to a hospital to realize your test cannot be performed due to a system failure. Predictive maintenance improves patient care and maximizes productivity by reducing the unplanned downtime of equipment as much as possible.
It also reduces the costs by improving the efficiency of maintenance works. The repair man or woman already knows which parts to bring to fix the problem. And it will be easy to identify which equipment is in need of a check-up allowing hospitals to cluster the work.
According to IoT for all, e-alert from Philips is a perfect example of efficient predictive maintenance. Instead of waiting for a device to fail, Philips’ new system takes a proactive approach by virtually monitoring medical hardware and alerting hospital staff members if there’s a problem.
4. Tracking inventory
In a hospital stuff gets moved around a lot: wheelchairs, infusion pumps, portable ultrasound devices. You can imagine it is a hassle retrieving all that material again. It’s a waste of time and money. That is why Bagaar teamed up with HPE who is now our partner in track and trace technology within healthcare. HPE’s Aruba asset tracking solutions helps locate inventory quickly. You just have to paste an Aruba tag on the devices and configure it using an app (give it a name, code…). Once it’s configured it automatically talks to BLE-enabled (Bluetooth Low Energy) Aruba access points that act as observers. You can then use an app or web browser to track the asset. Say a doctor needs an infusion pump quickly, he can just type in the name and see its exact location. Easy peasy. Knowing where something is in real-time improves customer service, productivity and provides cost savings.
5. Enhanced drug management
This is one of the most exciting breakthroughs in IoT cases in healthcare. Pills containing microscopic sensors that are the size of a grain of rice send signals to an external device or patch on the skin while travelling through your body. Kind of takes you back to the Matrix doesn’t it? Which pill will you choose? Oh Morpheus, if you would have known about these, you would have offered Neo a third pill right?
But what is it all about? The pills send signals to a device or skin patch to ensure proper dosage and usage. This especially comes in handy with people who tend to forget to take in their medication. Patients have access to the information through a handy smartphone app, to track their personal performance and improve their habits. It also helps fine-tune future prescriptions and dosages.
As you can gather, these IoT cases in healthcare are about so much more than modernizing the industry and reducing costs, it’s about taking patient experience to the next level. Do you want to find out how we can achieve this together? Let’s talk.