4 Internet of Things (IoT) Devices That Support Healthcare
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a system of interconnected devices, objects, or machines for the purpose of data transfer over a network. Its purpose is to connect and exchange data with other systems over the internet.
When it comes to healthcare, IoT devices offer new opportunities for medical professionals to monitor patients. It also gives patients the ability to monitor themselves.
Here are four IoT devices that support healthcare efforts.
1. Electronic Medical Records
Medical professionals need to be organized, and this can be a challenge with a revolving door of many diverse patients. Previously, if a patient had a record, it was kept in a room on the premises, and someone had to dig through hundreds of files to find the correct record.
Nowadays, professionals are organized with Electronic Health Records (EHR), a digital record of health information, which contains much more information than what would be found in a patient’s paper chart.
An EHR can include information like:
- Past medical history
- Prior injuries
- Progress notes
- Insurance information
- And more!
EHRs are unique in their data sharing. The health information becomes accessible to registered and authorized providers across all practices and organizations, from Primary Care Physicians to pharmacies and school clinics to labs. When data is shared effectively, care is coordinated efficiently.
2. Remote Patient Monitoring
Imagine a medical provider being able to collect a patient’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and more without them actually stepping into a healthcare facility. Remote patient monitoring is among the most common applications of IoT devices.
Wearable fitness trackers, like the physical activity tracking Fitbit or smartwatches, have created a wearable biosensor that collects user data. These trackers keep track of the user’s heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature as they move around.
They eliminate the need for patients to travel to providers or prevent them from collecting this information themselves. After collecting the data, the IoT device will forward the data to a software application where doctors and patients can view it.
3. Hand Hygiene Monitoring
We always see signs in public restrooms instructing us to wash our hands thoroughly. But how many of us actually do? This is especially important for providers and patients inside a healthcare facility.
By washing our hands properly in hospitals or clinics, we minimize the risk of spreading germs. To address this concern, many health care facilities use IoT devices that remind people to wash their hands and keep them sanitized when they enter hospital rooms.
These devices offer instructions on how to best minimize risks. The downfall? The devices can’t actually force people to wash their hands. They can only remind them to do so.
4. Depression Monitoring
Tracking depression symptoms and overall mood has been difficult to collect. Doctors can ask patients how they’re feeling but won’t be able to anticipate when energy levels drop or sudden mood swings kick in. Even more importantly, patients don’t always accurately report how they’re feeling.
This has paved the way to “mood-aware” IoT devices that address these challenges. They collect and analyze blood pressure and heart rate data to learn about a patient’s mental state. Advanced devices can even track the movement of the patient’s eyes.
The future of the Internet of Things in healthcare is still emerging with technological advancements, but it’s certainly revolutionizing the once traditional paper-based system.
The biggest challenge when it comes to IoT is security. IoT developers and healthcare professionals need to ensure data collected by IoT devices are 100% secure. When this is addressed, they’ll make the most of IoT devices and be able to deliver improved patient care.