Internet of Things (IoT) for healthcare

Internet of Things (IoT) for healthcare

Author: Dr Nirupama M P

October 6, 2021

Category: Healthcare

Last Updated: April 20, 2023

Effective healthcare is everyone’s right!
Healthcare is one of the sustainable and evolving areas, that has significantly revolutionized all fields of life. The advancement in information technologies has opened a new door to innovation. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a new generation of information technology that is creating disruptive innovations.
IoT is connecting the physical world like household appliances, industrial machinery, automobiles, construction, medical equipment, and the human body with the virtual world of the Internet. IoT has created a significant impact on the healthcare sector and has enhanced the efficiency in the medical field like record-keeping, sampling, integration of devices, reduced risk of surgery during complicated cases. IoT’s sensor-based technology provided an excellent capability in remote monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic. By using this technology, doctors can easily detect changes in critical parameters of the patients, minimise the risks, and improve treatment systems in hospitals. So, the world healthcare system needs the transformation from a clinic-centric environment to personalized information allied environment that can bring physicians and patients together to experience better healthcare services.
Why IoT?
The rapid development in the field of wireless communications in recent years has enhanced the capability of the network that extends on the Internet. It can connect various information sensing devices (such as Radio Frequency Identification, infrared sensors, laser scanners, etc.) to the Internet to enable the “Internet of Everything”. There are countless applications of IoT in various fields and among them, healthcare is one of its important application areas. There are countless people who lose their lives every year due to various diseases and related health problems which can be minimised with the use of IoT technology that can solve most of the problems in the healthcare sector and save millions of dollars on patients spending. Hence IoT has become one of the cutting-edge technologies in the healthcare system.
The role of the Internet of Things becomes more dominant when it is supported by the features of mobile computing. Mobile computing extends the functionality of IoT in the healthcare environment by bringing massive support in the form of mobile health (m-health). Mobile computing enhances the capability of IoT applications in healthcare. It contributes to the current and future transition in the healthcare system, provides privacy and security in health IoT devices. Furthermore, there is a dire need to address many challenges in the healthcare sector and provide a prompt solution. The IoT, mobile, and network connectivity provide the best solution in healthcare services with easy-to-use features. The IoT based systems are reliable, effective, reduces the cost and improves the quality of life. It brings a smart healthcare system in the medical field, composed of sensors with smart functionality, a remote server, a network with remote monitoring and multi-dimensional features!

The limitless potential of IoT in Healthcare

IoT Applications:
In recent times, numerous applications have been developed that are intended to deliver the best possible solution to the users in the field of healthcare. The application of IoT in healthcare is categorized as single condition applications and clustered condition applications. Internet of Things (IoT) has attracted much attention during pandemics for its potential applications in healthcare.
A few applications of IoT in healthcare are:

    • Remote patient monitoring
    • Body temperature monitoring
    • Blood pressure monitoring system
    • Glucose level sensing
    • Oxygen saturation monitoring system
    • Wheelchair management system
    • ECG (Electrocardiogram) monitoring system
    • Rehabilitation system

Issues and Challenges with IoT:
The key challenges that healthcare IoT faces include security, privacy, wearability, low-power operation, and standardization.

    • The rapid advancement of technology has enabled billions of smart devices and objects to get connected through IoT and these smart devices collect huge amounts of data used for processing, analysing, and stored for later use. This leads to scalability issues in IoT based systems.
    • Lack of standardization for IoT devices, interoperability of things is a serious issue and requires technological convergence to establish a standardized framework.
    • Application of IoT based system in healthcare requires security and safety especially when remote monitoring of patients is considered. Patients’ information, security of data, confidentiality, and integrity should be ensured and hence to avoid any threat to the privacy of patient’s data IoT based system requires data security.
    • As technology is advancing challenges may arise pertaining to design issues like limited memory, computational challenges and energy requirements may need to be addressed in the future.

Internet of things is an ever-growing technology and has played a remarkable role in improving the quality of life. Its application is multidisciplinary and used in various sectors like the automation industry, agriculture, transportation, building smart homes, cities, and healthcare, and many more where decision making is critical. IoT applications especially in the healthcare domain connect patients- to devices, patients to doctors and vice-versa to establish communications with an intelligent connection assuring an effective and efficient healthcare system.
IoT application is limitless and especially in healthcare, it has significantly transformed the traditional way of caregiving and has addressed the major socio-economic concern related to healthcare. Effective healthcare is everyone’s right and IoT-based healthcare systems have enabled it with low-cost technology in a smart manner.

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