Search for healthcare trends in 2018 and the internet of things is at the top of everyone’s list. We know that medicine and technology greatly interact already, but the type of things we’ll see this year have lots of people talking. This includes technology like AI systems, consumer healthcare devices, advanced communication networks, and so much more. The internet of things in healthcare is expected to reach nearly $410 billion by 2022, so clearly it’s important to understand how allied health professionals can make use of this technology now!
Through the introduction of advanced connected medical devices, smartphones, and software automation, the internet of things in healthcare is a significant phenomenon. It makes an impact by enabling faster patient testing, better accuracy, and ease of use. With the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases like heart failure, obesity, diabetes and hypertension, monitoring patients accurately and seamlessly is very desirable.
The Internet of Things in Healthcare
The internet of things in healthcare is enabling new generations of medical devices that feature real-time patient monitoring. When allied health professionals can swiftly respond to a patient’s needs and track their condition through connected devices, the results are very positive. One of the most significant areas where the internet of things in healthcare assists patients is in geriatrics. So how exactly does the internet of things function in the real world? Let’s explore some common technologies and methods:
OpenAPS — Closed-Loop Insulin Delivery
The internet of things in healthcare takes many forms. One of which is the open-source initiative, OpenAPS (artificial pancreas system). Developed by Dana Lewis and her husband Scott Leibrand, the system emerged after hacking Dana’s CGM (continuous glucose monitor) and her insulin pump. These devices’ data was then fed into a Raspberry Pi computer to offer more flexibility for consumers using devices for treating diabetes.
Beyond the security concerns, lengthy development and testing periods, the real value of examples like this is the fact that it’s open source technology. This means anyone with the time and know-how can engineer connected medical devices to meet specific needs before such things even make it to market. It’s logical to be somewhat wary of this, however, Dana Lewis explains their rationale here.
Activity Trackers During Chronic Conditions
Another great example of how the internet of things improves patients outcomes is the use of activity trackers. Through a partnership between The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a cloud research firm, Medidata, a study found significant benefits to this technology. Specifically, the testing involved patients with multiple myeloma and how their physical activity corresponded to their treatments and therapies.
The trackers logged data points such as activity levels, fatigue, and appetite in order to find the most effective times for treatment. The thought is that wearables paint a much more detailed picture of a patient’s overall habits and wellbeing to pinpoint the best medical options. Similarly, this technology shows healthcare professionals when patients stick to their treatment plans and how to make the necessary adjustments.
One of the more unique examples of the internet of things in healthcare is the use of ingestible sensors. Right now, Proteus Digital Health is maintaining a system that monitors medication adherence. This is actually achieved by pills which create a small signal able to be picked up by a sensor worn on the body. The data relay to a smartphone app for tracking purposes.
Considering the World Health Organization’s report that 50% of medicines are not taken as directed, this technology provides one solution. Again, this is another amazing example of how the internet of things in healthcare is a significant force in technology today.
What are your thoughts on the internet of things? Any great examples you’ve heard of, seen, or used? Let us know in the comments below!