IoT Connecting Medical Devices: Revolutionising Healthcare
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a powerful force in reshaping healthcare, especially post-pandemic. The convergence of IoT technology with medical devices is creating exciting possibilities for improving patient care, maintaining diagnostic accuracy, and streamlining healthcare processes. Before this technology existed, patient’s interactions with doctors were limited to visits, or email and telephone communications. There was no procedure for doctors or hospitals to monitor patients’ health continuously while the patient was away from the clinic. In this article, we’ll explore how IoT is connecting medical devices and transforming the medical technology industry.
The Intersection of IoT and Healthcare
The Internet of Things is a network of interconnected devices and sensors that can collect and transmit data over the Internet. In the context of healthcare, this means integrating sensors and connectivity into medical devices, allowing them to communicate with each other and with healthcare clinicians and providers.
There are 4 main customers for IoT in healthcare – patients, healthcare clinicians, hospitals and insurance companies.
For patients, wearable devices like fitness bands and wirelessly connected heart rate monitors can help them to personally manage their health. Remote patient monitoring software aids independence and creates safety within the community without needing to visit a doctor regularly. It can also unburden healthcare institutions like the NHS. Health apps are also very popular, with 60% of GPs recommending health apps to patients in the UK in 2023.
For healthcare clinicians, tracking and adapting a treatment plan is easy. IoT allows clinicians to be more watchful and connect with the patients proactively. Best treatments can be established using the data collected from IoT devices For hospitals, IoT devices can be used to track the location of medical equipment and to deploy medical staff to different locations. It can also support hygiene monitoring devices in infection control efforts and help in asset management like pharmacy inventory control and environmental monitoring.
Finally, for health insurance companies, data can be leveraged from the IoT devices to underwriting and claims procedures. Fraud will be more easily detected, saving time and money, and there will be better transparency between insurers and customers.
Types of IoT in Healthcare Technology
1. Remote Patient Monitoring
One of the most significant ways IoT has been used in healthcare is remote patient monitoring. This is where patients with long-term conditions or those recovering from surgeries can now be monitored from the comfort of their homes. IoT-enabled medical devices, such as wearable fitness trackers, blood pressure monitors, and glucose metres, can send real-time data to healthcare providers without them visiting a hospital. This data allows for early detection of health issues and timely intervention, reducing hospital readmissions and improving patient outcomes.
2. Smart Implants and Prosthetics
IoT technology can be found in implants and prosthetic devices. Smart implants, such as insulin pumps and pacemakers can send data about their status and performance to healthcare clinicians. This supports early detection of any malfunctions. Prosthetic limbs with IoT sensors can give real-time feedback, enabling them to be more intuitive and responsive to their movements.
3. Medication Adherence
IoT-connected pill dispensers and medication management systems are improving medication adherence among patients. These devices can prompt patients to take their scheduled medications and warn healthcare providers if a patient misses a dose. This technology is especially valuable for patients with complex medication regimens, such as those with chronic illnesses, or older people who might have memory impairments resulting in missed medication or over-medicating.
4. Smart Imaging Devices
IoT-enabled imaging devices, such as MRI machines and CT scanners, can produce high-quality images and send them to radiologists in real-time. This enables faster diagnoses and reduces the waiting time for patients to receive their results.
5. Wearable ECG Monitors
When a patient has an abnormal heart rhythm, the consequences can be deadly. By using a wearable ECG monitor, the patient and their physician can continuously track their heart activity remotely, providing valuable data to cardiologists. If the device picks up an abnormality, it can be treated quickly.
6. IoT in Laboratories
IoT is improving the speed and accuracy of laboratory processes. Smart lab equipment can collect and send data relating to experiments and test results, minimising the risk of human error and improving research reliability.
Streamlining Healthcare Processes
IoT-connected medical devices are not only improving patient care but also streamlining healthcare processes. Asset tracking will allow hospitals to know the location and status of medical equipment, ensuring there is no shortage of medical supplies when they are needed. It will also be possible to know if a device needs maintenance, and working to full capacity.
Similarly, inventory management also benefits from IoT, allowing hospital administrators to have real-time data on inventory, and ensuring that healthcare facilities have an adequate stock of essential items.
The Future of IoT in Healthcare
As IoT technology continues to advance, its impact on healthcare is poised to grow. Future developments may include:
- AI Integration: Combining IoT with AI can lead to more advanced predictive analytics, enabling early disease detection and personalised treatment plans.
- Telemedicine: IoT-connected devices will play a significant role in the expansion of telemedicine, providing doctors with real-time patient data during virtual consultations.
- Population Health Management: IoT will help healthcare providers collect and analyse data from large patient populations, enabling more effective public health initiatives.
We want to ensure that healthcare continues to develop its technology to provide the best possible patient care and health outcomes. Talk to us today about how we can support your healthcare organisation with IoT technology and healthcare app development.