The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly gaining popularity in all spheres of life, especially in healthcare. In short, this technology allows multiple connected devices to collect and share information with each other. IoT is not limited to smart home devices like smart switches, lights, and locks.
What does this mean for healthcare?
In fact, the applications are so varied that you probably wouldn't believe that these examples are taken from real life. Here are just a few:
Symptom-tracking app that sends information about cancer treatment responses to doctors and can prevent hospitalization A connected hospital device that informs doctors of their current location informs hospital management of replacement needs and monitors staff performance.
Remote temperature monitoring to ensure proper transport and storage of vaccines
Health IT solutions that remind patients to refill their medication and ingestible sensors that trigger an alert if medication has not been taken on time, Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and smart insulin pens that record and recommend the time and amount of insulin injection to help diabetics App-connected smart inhalers to help people with asthma and lung disease understand what causes symptoms and predict allergens.
Given such examples, the Internet of Things (IoT) is seen as a way to live a smarter and safer life, and its application in healthcare facilities is highly encouraged. However, digital transformation in healthcare is not without threats. It is important to consider all the advantages and disadvantages of implementing IoT systems in healthcare to plan ways to maximize the advantages while mitigating the disadvantages.
The main benefits of IoT in healthcare
The overall importance of healthcare software solutions is hard to overstate, as technology promises to streamline healthcare services and ease the burden on healthcare providers. This is critical in the context of an aging population and an increase in the number of chronic diseases.
The main advantages of implementing IoT in healthcare:
Remote monitoring: Real-time remote monitoring through connected IoT devices and smart alerts can diagnose diseases, treat diseases and save lives in medical emergencies.
Prevention: Smart sensors analyze health status, lifestyle and environment and recommend preventive measures to reduce the occurrence of diseases and acute conditions.
Lower healthcare costs: IoT reduces costly doctor visits and hospitalizations and makes testing more affordable.
Availability of Medical Data: The accessibility of electronic medical records enables patients to receive quality care and helps healthcare providers make sound medical decisions and prevent complications.
Improved treatment management: IoT devices help track medication administration and response to treatment and reduce medical errors.
Improved healthcare management: Using IoT devices, healthcare authorities can gain valuable information about equipment and staff efficiency and use it to design innovations.
Research: Since IoT devices can collect and analyze huge amounts of data, they have high potential for medical research purposes.
IoT in Healthcare: Challenges and Threats
Although the Internet of Things can greatly benefit healthcare, there are still major challenges that need to be addressed before it can be fully implemented. The threats and disadvantages of using connected devices in healthcare are as follows:
Security and Privacy: Security and privacy remain a major concern that discourages users from using IoT technology for medical purposes, as healthcare monitoring solutions can be compromised or hacked. Leaking sensitive patient health and location information and tampering with sensor data can have serious consequences that would run counter to the benefits of the Internet of Things.
Risk of failure: Hardware failures, errors, or even power outages, can affect the performance of sensors and connected devices and compromise healthcare operations. Furthermore, skipping a scheduled software update can be even more dangerous than missing a doctor's appointment.
Integration: There is no consensus on IoT protocols and standards, so devices made by different manufacturers may not work well together. The lack of uniformity prevents the full integration of the Internet of Things, thereby limiting its potential effectiveness.
Cost: While IoT promises to reduce healthcare costs in the long term, the cost of implementing it in hospitals and training staff is quite high.