A lack of resources, under-funding, overworked staff, and an ever-increasing pressure to become more patient centric—the health sector is in dire need of a redesign. And it’s that need for a redesign that will drive the significant growth of IoT adoption I believe we’ll see in this sector (see 2018: The Year of the IoT).
With the help of IoT (and the Channel!), health organisations and businesses can streamline services, improve operational efficiency, support patient engagement, help generate new revenue opportunities, and save money—all while ensuring the best possible outcome for patients, physicians, hospitals, cities, and even athletes. Let’s take a look at some applications that are benefitting the healthcare sector.
The potential of healthcare in IoT
The most immediate use for IoT technology in healthcare is not only to assist in diagnosis, but allowing medical staff to remotely monitor, consult, and treat patients without them physically being in a hospital. “Telemedicine” allows contagious disease sufferers to avoid doctors’ surgeries via high-speed video links in the comfort of their own homes. This not only saves the patient time and effort, but also minimises the risk of passing on infections and viruses.
Building on the applications of remote care, IoT technology is supporting elderly and vulnerable people in keeping their independence whilst also giving family members peace of mind.
Adding sensors to medicines or delivery mechanisms, such as inhalers and medicine cabinets, can allow doctors to keep an accurate track of whether patients are sticking to their treatment plan, while connecting these devices to mobile apps can prompt patients to take their medicine. Wearables can keep more vulnerable family members safe through location tracking, panic buttons, and sensors that send out alerts should a person fall or suffer abnormal physical symptoms.
Health and wellness
IoT is helping to gathering data through wearables and applications that monitor high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, and other medical conditions. On a consumer level, fitness monitors can count your steps you take, measure your heart-rate, and track your sleep quality via your smartphone—all through IoT. This is leading not only to a better standard and accountability in individual and public health, but new incentives and initiatives in health insurance. As a result, people who are able to manage their health better may avoid hospitalisation and the need to see doctors, which over time may have a wider impact in reducing social and council spending on government supplied healthcare.
IoT is also revolutionising the way athletes train. By using IoT-enabled wearables, athletes can now record and reflect on their performance, meaning they can make data driven decisions regarding their training to see more accurate, impactful, and quicker results. Wearables can also be used to show how much athletes are exerting themselves, specifically helping with the prediction and management of injuries.
IoT solutions are enabling the predictive maintenance of hospital assets, connected healthcare devices, and the tracking of expensive equipment (and patients). The ongoing evolution also includes smart hospital beds, the aggregation and real-time availability of data from healthcare devices and assets regarding specific patients, and the use of robots in a hospital environment for routine tasks.
Healthcare in transit
Paramedics are using IoT to help monitor and transfer critical patient information to the hospital ahead of the patient’s arrival, helping to improve operational efficiency to gain those few vital minutes or seconds. Pharmaceutical companies and hospitals are using IoT to track and monitor shipments of medication, allowing them to see where they are at any given time, if the drugs are stored at the right temperature and helping to keep waste to a minimum.
What about healthcare data security?
IoT in Healthcare isn’t without its obstacles. The number of connected devices and the tremendous amount of data they collect can be a challenge to manage—and then there’s the question of how to keep all of the data secure, especially if it’s being exchanged with other devices.
Due to the sensitive nature of healthcare data, security needs to be a primary consideration, rather than an afterthought—but it needn’t be a headache. Healthcare providers must ensure their IoT suppliers and partners are providing them with security strategies that include monitoring networks for compliance, traffic, and errors, and sending real-time alerts of unusual activity.
So, what are the major considerations for partners wanting to succeed, or indeed be more successful, in IoT healthcare solutions?
Largely, it’s all about if your existing capability lends itself to the opportunities presented within a particular market sector—whether it is healthcare or any other vertical. You then essentially have three principle options:
- You can develop the capability to deliver an end to end solution. This often takes an incredible amount of time, meaning you may miss the opportunity.
- You can acquire the capability, which can be expensive, risky, and take time to integrate.
- Or you can partner with other organisations in order to collaborate and use the combined strengths of both businesses to create compelling and market-leading solutions.
Here at Pangea we firmly believe in the power of collaborating. In fact, it’s the very thing our business is built on. We operate through a channel of more than 100 resellers and technology partners, meaning our partners our essentially our only customers. As the Channel’s Choice for IoT, our partnerships have been critical to us delivering those bespoke, market-leading IoT solutions in healthcare—because IoT is much more than just connectivity.