Innovations are an important driver of the healthcare industry. From the development of new medicines to the rapidly improving infrastructure of modern hospitals, the healthcare industry is one that runs on a dynamic trend always bending towards the new and modern. That’s why the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) not only has the power to be impactful in healthcare of the future, it is creating real change in the industry today.
A recent report from Research and Markets showed that the global IoT market in healthcare is projected to grow from $20.15 billion in 2015 to $135.87 billion by 2025. In fact, the medical industry is expected to be one of the top spenders when it comes to IoT. This reinforces the impression that there is a strong belief by the healthcare industry that investment in IoT is the future of medical care.
And if today’s evidence is any indication, they are not wrong. There is, however, work to be done, as an Accenture Consulting survey revealed that 73% of healthcare executives believe that IoT will be disruptive in the next three years, but only about half (49%) said their leaders fully understand what IoT means to their organization.
And that needs to change because IoT is having a concrete impact on improving healthcare already, with its role only bound to increase in importance. Not to mention the effect IoT has had on business overall.
Through the use of mobile applications, wearable devices, innovative software, and a bevy of other IoT-related technologies, patients today are seeing better outcomes. Let’s examine a few of the ways that IoT is improving healthcare for people today.
4 ways IoT is improving healthcare today
1. Patient monitoring
One of the key ways that IoT interacts with the healthcare industry is via patient monitoring. By giving doctors the ability to access constant real-time updates about their patients no matter where said patient may be, the medical professionals now have a more extensive knowledge base than ever before. And all this can be accomplished (and is in use today) via small wearable devices that can send back reams of information without being intrusive or confining the patient to an indefinite hospital stay.
One the biggest impacts that IoT is having on the health industry is by making the whole process more efficient. In the Accenture survey, 33% of medical providers and 42% of medical payers reported extensive cost savings due to the use of remote patient monitoring. For medical providers, that percentage increased with 42% saying there were extensive cost savings as a result of IoT when it came to wellness and prevention.
Besides cost savings due to increased efficiency, better health outcomes are also the result of the increased operational efficiency from IoT. Today, some hospitals use a real-time tracking system for their inventory so they know exactly the types and the amounts of specific medical supplies they have on-site. This type of connectivity allows medical professionals to avoid running out of a stock of a certain medicine or experiencing delays due to an inventory error.
Speed and time can be crucial to a positive healthcare outcome. As such, IoT institutes a level of accuracy and detail that older systems like ledgers and manually inputting data simply cannot match.
Teams of medical professionals interact extensively with each other when they are taking care of a patient so the flow of information is crucial to ensuring that the medical professionals are all on the same page. One of the best ways that they can be certain their information is correct is through the use of IoT systems to help increase their coordination.
By being able to share information in real-time, seeing updates from whichever medical professional the patient is with at the moment, alongside the previously mentioned patient monitoring system, you have a far more comprehensive picture being painted than you would have with verbal or written exchanges.
Accuracy matters in the healthcare industry. In some cases, reliable data can be the difference between a successful and catastrophic outcome. IoT lends a hand by allowing doctors to be more organized than they could otherwise be without the constant connectivity and data sharing.
4. Healthcare security
The recent data attacks and breaches of some of the biggest organizations in the world are concerning to every industry, but healthcare has to take note as it is the second most targeted sector by malware according to a Verizon data breach analysis, behind only the financial industry. Healthcare cybersecurity is one of the most important areas of concern for the industry moving forward.
The effect on patient outcomes cannot be overstated. If data is breached and corrupted, captured or otherwise denied use to the medical professionals, then care would suffer dramatically as a result. And that doesn’t even cover the potential fallout due to a breach of privacy and other ancillary consequences.
With that in mind, healthcare IoT security can be one of the best ways to help prevent these types of attacks and create a stronger buffer between malware and a patient’s data. For instance, hospitals and practitioners that are using IoT devices are better able to connect the devices to a single cohesive system that has strong cybersecurity measures in place as well as comprehensive disaster recovery options.
IoT allows for the constant sharing and updating of data and systems, whereas the older methods of disparate data entry and storage methods leave an organization vulnerable to attacks from different angles. Put another way, IoT collects information and can be arranged so that everything is stored behind a single, well-protected wall. The alternative method currently has many different methods of storing data in different locations and, therefore, creates more walls that need protecting, opening the organization up to a higher chance of human error or oversight.