Technological advancements have revolutionized many industries, but there’s no doubt that the healthcare sector has been transformed by the emergence of new tech. As the Internet of Things (IoT) is more widely implemented, we’re beginning to see even more remarkable healthcare developments.
To find out what the future holds for medical professionals and patients, take a look at these six ways IoT is transforming the healthcare sector:
1. Remote Monitoring
Traditionally, doctors and nurses were only able to monitor patients in a hospital or clinic setting, which led to long-term stays or incomplete data. With IoT tech, however, wearable biosensors can facilitate continuous patient monitoring. Not only does this enable medical professionals to obtain more accurate and complete information, but it also means they can access critical data in real-time.
When patients use wearable devices to monitor their health, alerts and warning systems can inform medical professionals when urgent action needs to be taken. In many cases, patients can be contacted and instructed to obtain further treatment, even before symptoms emerge.
This proactive approach to healthcare can significantly improve patient outcomes and enable medical professionals to deliver more effective and well-rounded care.
2. Virtual Wards
As remote monitoring increases the efficacy of outpatient treatments, patients are required to spend less time in a hospital environment. This is accelerating the development of ‘virtual wards’ and giving patients access to more advanced at-home medical services than ever before.
In addition to this, the emergence of virtual wards and remote monitoring is changing the way medical professionals work. Now, doctors and nurses can operate from medical clinic hubs and treat an increased number of patients while minimizing resource consumption.
Furthermore, nurses are taking on more active leadership roles. By completing an advanced online DNP program with Baylor University, for example, nurse practitioners can launch their own clinics in full-practice states and provide outstanding care in the community. As IoT increases the availability of remote care via real-time monitoring and virtual wards, we can expect to see patients gaining access to a wider variety of outpatient services and at-home care.
3. Pandemic Prevention
After the devastating impact of COVID-19, governments around the world are taking a more proactive approach to pandemic prevention. With first-hand experience of the effects a novel virus can have, there is increased pressure to implement more preventative measures in the future.
Fortunately, the Internet of Things makes this possible. Wearable smart thermometers are already being used to identify clusters of COVID-19 cases, for example, which can help alert medical professionals to regional spikes. When viruses, like COVID-19, can spread via asymptotic individuals, the use of IoT tech can have a dramatic impact on the rate of diagnosis and enable the virus to be more effectively contained.
4. Patient Accountability
IoT-enabled tech gives patients access to a wide variety of medical data and essentially puts them in control of their health. Although fitness trackers and smart watches weren’t originally designed as medical devices, there’s no doubt that their use is having a positive impact on patient accountability.
Instead of receiving sporadic updates following routine medical checks or diagnoses after a medical event, patients are taking a more preemptive approach to their well-being. When people can monitor their heart rate, activity or even blood sugar with a smart device, for example, they become increasingly accountable for their health. As a result, patients are becoming more health-conscious and are able to take a more decisive role when it comes to the management of their health.
5. Automated Insulin Delivery
As the number of patients with diabetes continues to rise, IoT is facilitating the creation of more effective treatments. It’s estimated that 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, which amounts to 10.5% of the U.S. population. With so many people affected by this life-threatening condition, it’s vital that effective and accessible treatments are rolled out swiftly.
Until now, patients have been required to monitor their glucose levels via finger prick testing. Based on their results, patients must then determine how much insulin they require in order to bring their levels within a normal range. Of course, the possibility of patient error or non-compliance increases the risk of medical emergencies and can also mean that more people develop serious complications due to diabetes.
With an automated insulin delivery (AID) system, however, a patient’s blood glucose levels can be monitored continuously, and an automated pump can deliver insulin in accordance with the individual’s requirements. With better patient outcomes and a reduced rate of non-compliance and errors, this is one way that IoT is already transforming healthcare for a vast number of patients.
6. Non-Invasive Diagnostic Testing
When patients develop symptoms or are identified as being high-risk for certain conditions, doctors and nurses may conduct a range of diagnostic tests. However, invasive tests, such as endoscopies or laparoscopies, can be uncomfortable or even traumatic for the individual. Additionally, they often involve a longer recovery rate and can be expensive, thus reducing access to healthcare services across the population.
However, IoT-based devices can be used to carry out non-invasive diagnostic testing. These devices are small enough that patients can swallow them in the same they would a tablet or capsule. With in-built camera capturing information and IoT functionality relaying it to medical professionals, an accurate diagnosis can be made without any invasive tests being required. What’s more – patients needn’t remain in a hospital or clinic setting while the test is on-going.
What Does the Future of Healthcare Look Like?
The Internet of Things is already revolutionizing the healthcare sector, but more transformations are to come. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see more effective treatments, faster diagnoses and increased accessibility to healthcare services.
While this is undoubtedly positive news for patients, it’s also an exciting progression for medical professionals. With access to the devices and data they need to deliver enhanced care and achieve better outcomes, it’s not surprising that so many talented professionals are inspired to join the industry.