The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the technology that connects physical objects to the internet while it's a boon for healthcare systems, especially telemedicine.
IoT is developing and changing the way healthcare facilities, including remote patient monitoring, are delivered through existing interconnected technology.
So, if you are looking to integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) into telemedicine, you need to dig out this technology's potential in detail.
But, wouldn't you like to begin with;
The Facts and Figures of IoT from Market Perspective?
With an expected 749 billion U.S.m dollars spending on the Internet of Things technology worldwide by 2020, the technology (IoT) is likely to be at $322.2 billion by 2025 with 29.9% CAGR.
Whereas, a report by Statista suggests that almost 161 million IoT devices in the healthcare segment will be installed by 2020. Let's take a look at the image below.
IoT in Healthcare: expected installations worldwide from 2015 to 2020
The healthcare industry is the largest beneficiary of the Internet of Things, while telemedicine received a new face. In fact, IoT has streamlined the core concept of telemedicine —to provide the best healthcare facilities to people living far off in remote locations with no healthcare facilities.
Now come to our core points;
What is Telemedicine?
Even though most of you may be aware of telemedicine, let's give you a brief introduction to it. The core concept of telemedicine is to deliver remote healthcare services to people living in remote areas, especially where there are no healthcare facilities. Besides, it also had a purpose to reduce the burden of hospitals loaded with an end number of patients.
What is IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT), in general, connects the physical world to the internet and enables users to collect and share information in real-time. For example, with IoT, you can connect objects, such as lights, machines, ACs, fans, or other things and communicate with them without involving human beings.
Why IoT a Right Option for Telemedicine
Even though IoT can be beneficial for almost every industry, organization, corporate offices, manufacturing sectors, smart home, and so on and so forth, healthcare is no exception at all. In contrast, healthcare can be the largest beneficiary of it (refer to the facts and figures section for better clarity).
With IoT, healthcare managers can ensure the growth of telemedicine by grabbing the offering that IoT has to offer. For example, the quality of care, enhanced patient monitoring system, real-time health tracking system, and much more. So, even after having so many offerings and facilities, "what are the benefits of IoT in telemedicine?" is a paramount concern for most healthcare organizations. So, let's glance through the top benefits of IoT in healthcare, especially in telemedicine.
Whether it is to access patients' data or examine the wound, rash, or patient health condition improvement, the Internet of Things can be the best supporting innovation for doctors. However, doctors also have to face some of the challenges in this case. For example, they cannot listen to the heartbeat or check blood pressure using IoT technology.
However, there is a solution to it. Wearable devices powered by IoT play an important role by allowing doctors to access relevant information.
Real-time health monitoring
If technology is boon for humanity, IoT in healthcare can be an example of it. It has plenty of offerings to healthcare, while real-time monitoring is the life-saving feature that IoT delivers to healthcare. Doctors can get patients' health reports every second, establishing better and enhanced healthcare facilities. Patients wearing a Holter monitor device will enable doctors and patients to check abnormalities (if it occurs) in their heartbeat.
Best mate for senior citizen
This is really disheartening to see many older people struggling to get better medical treatment, even in urban areas. However, with IoT integration, the issue can be resolved successfully. Doctors and hospitals can provide healthcare facilities to senior citizens without letting them leave their home. Technology can help them make their life more comfortable and hassle-free. IoT devices will not only help people, especially senior citizens, improve their health condition, but also it will be a boon for people with disabilities.
Things You Should Consider before Deploying IoT for Telemedicine
IoT is the need of the hour, especially in the healthcare sector. However, you can't just get it developed and integrated into your healthcare system. You need to consider certain aspects of it. They are;
Even though IoT does not require any complex infrastructure to deploy, you should make sure that there are no last-minute hassles. For example, power points, access points for cable, permission for device cabling, no connectivity barrier, proper installation space, and should be ensured earlier to avoid any further glitch. You may also need to have a networking staff who will support you from device installation to management.
On-site IoT maintenance
If you are considering installing IoT technology into your healthcare system, you have to consider its maintenance. Initially, you may not need to spend on its care, but as it grows older, the IoT devices will get worn off, and then maintenance will be needed.
It could be a challenge, and you may be compelled to hire professionals who will look into this matter. However, it will also be helpful to the people who are looking to
IoT works on telecommunications along with internet connections, and hence it is crucial for users to have secure connections. It's really a challenge for healthcare managers to keep Patient Identity and health information safe and protected. PII refers to Patients Identity Information, and PHI refers to Patient Health Information, and both contain highly sensitive information, and security is essential during the storage and transmission stage.
Device support and testing
You would not take the risk of getting a technical glitch once it is implemented. Therefore, it is essential to have proper testing and ensure tech support to get the seamless result. If IoT devices are not tested, you may fail to achieve users' satisfaction. Testing of IoT devices include;
- Connectivity testing
- Logistics testing
- Inventory management testing
- Lifecycle management testing
List of IoT Applications/Use Cases for Telemedicine
IoT has added another feather to the mHealth system that enables doctors to keep track of all vitals, including blood pressure, heartbeat, etc., of patients as we have discussed earlier the challenges that doctors have to face with IoT, in case of remote monitoring. With IoT integrated with smart wearable devices, doctors can now quickly get detailed reports, including the required vitals of the body. With mobile health, handling critical situations will become easy.
Sometimes or more often, patients forget to take medicines timely. Even doctors get busy with other work, forgetting that there are patients who need attention. But, these all things are far gone now. With IoT in place, the ingestible sensors can keep them regular. Patients will be reminded to take medicine in time, while doctors will get notification and alert if they have to be examined.
Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring is believed to be the sole reason why IoT was introduced in telemedicine. IoT-enabled devices for patient monitoring ensures that doctors get all necessary information such as the patient's health condition, blood pressure level and so much more remotely. Whereas patients, especially those living in far off areas do not have to come to the hospital physically to attend treatment.
These are the basis use cases, though you can come with plenty of IoT app use cases in telemedicine. You can take expert advice when you consider telemedicine app development and find out more use cases of IoT into your sector.
Top Challenges of IoT in Telemedicine
A saying goes, "The IoT's value is never greater than what management is prepared to do with it." —Meta S. Brown, Forbes.
We have discussed a little bit about challenges regarding IoT in telemedicine earlier in this article. For example, collecting data, exploring the authenticity of it, managing the data, and more. Now, let's discuss the top challenges you may face with IoT, though these challenges are avoidable by taking precautionary measures.
Unauthorized access / Vulnerability
When it comes to IoT in telemedicine, having a robust security module system is the need of the hour. If you don't have that, it might invite hackers and online robbers to peep through your internal affairs. And that may not be good for your healthcare facilities.
Security at stack
IoT, if not protected well, will be vulnerable to hack. What if even a single patient's data is hacked? It will keep the centralized system at the stack. You may not be able to control the situation efficiently. However, proper precaution and timely maintenance, along with team support, can help you void such issues.
Health/care policies transformation
Even though world healthcare is going through a transition, it should be consistent across all states and countries. For example, many countries follow outdated healthcare systems and regulations, which may create barriers in integrating technology.
IoT is going to be omnipresent. It has enormous potential in healthcare, especially in telemedicine. With IoT, you can not only reduce the number of patients entering hospitals, but also enables doctors to provide efficient care to patients remotely as well as on-premise. The technology is boon for both healthcare and people —doctors can provide reliable treatment while patients can get timely treatment. For older people, it can prove to be the best life-saving element. Let’s explore the technology and integrate it with your traditional healthcare system.