The digitalization and technological advancement in the healthcare industry has taken the sector by storm, so much so that as on day the entire industry is being recalibrated. Firms that once never had a presence in the space are now demanding a strong presence and forcing their competitors to notice them. Sensors, mobile devices and other such related technologies are bestowing new opportunities and risks for such business. En masse, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), this term covers all non-computer and non-phone Internet connected devices.
IoT offers massive promises in the field of healthcare unlike in any other field. The care givers have already started applying the principles of IoT to increase the quality of care provided, improved access to care and predominantly reducing the costs. Devices connected to the internet have been introduced for patient and care-giver usage in many forms.
Irrespective of where data comes from, be it fetal monitors, temperature monitors or blood glucose levels, tracking health information regularly is important for some patients. Once this data is recorded a follow-up interaction is the next thing with the care giver. This leads to a demand for smarter devices, which can deliver valuable data in-turn reducing the need for direct contact between the patient and the physician.
A few hospitals have already installed smart bed technologies in their premises. This technology enables them to monitor the patient (who occupies that bed) very closely. They can monitor the patient’s movement (if he/she is trying to get up from the bed), adjust the pressure and support of the bed without the nurse having to come in contact with the bed.
Another technology worth noticing is Clinical Decision Support (CDS), through this algorithm doctors will be alerted to intervene, if needed, much before the required event. With all the data being gathered, this will further strengthen/aid the development of such algorithms which will be really beneficial for a resource constrained setup.
The Radio frequency identification (RFID) is already being used in the supply chain management of drugs, where the RFID tags are attached to the containers, enabling better control and confidence to producers, consumers and regulators. The next break through invention expected in the space is edible IoT, companies like WuXi PharmaTech and TruTag Technologies are already working on it. They are in the process of creating a smart pill, which will help monitor the medication routine.
As expected, technology comes with its side effects. Along with the benefits there are privacy concerns that hover above such revolutionary advancements. Most of the devices used are secure, however, vulnerability to hackers is always a concern for the user. While the authorities continue to lay out stringent rules and regulations for better uses of IoT, we are yet to see huge number of embracers of IoT in the healthcare sector.
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About The Author:
An engineering graduate from NIT, Karnataka, Jagadeesh, started his career in 1997 with Bosch India. A thorough professional, Jagadeesh is known for his leadership skills and ability to mentor his team with great zeal.
As Director – Health Systems at Philips Innovation Campus, Bangalore. Jagadeesh, is involved in developing solutions for Emerging markets (including India, ASEAN, Africa) to deliver care specially for the underserved population