Digital transformation is a new reality reshaping all market industries and the life of humanity as such. While people have been long welcoming digitalization of manufacturing or media and entertainment, using artificial intelligence and autonomous technology in personal vehicles and, more than that, the human body, has had a bit of a chilling effect. Thus, the healthcare industry faces a dual challenge – to leverage the latest technology while also educating people on the benefits of living in the age of digital healthcare.
Meeting this challenge requires close consideration of the possible impact on stakeholders and weighing all the advantages of digitalization against the hazards this may pose. Join FPT Software, a global IT consulting company having vast experience with digital healthcare IT solutions, in the discussion of the pros and cons of implementing the Internet of Things in healthcare.
How is IoT Applied in Healthcare?
The basic idea of the Internet of Things (IoT) is equipping common things with sensors and the ability to communicate the data they collect. This technology is finding diverse application in healthcare, the importance of which cannot be questioned:
- Symptom-tracking apps: These send updates on the responses to treatment and allow constant supervision by a physician without the need for hospitalization;
- Connected hospital equipment: Can be used to optimize equipment usage and maintenance, as well as track and improve staff performance;
- Remote temperature monitoring: Used for creating comfortable conditions in the wardrooms and for monitoring correct transportation of mediation and vaccines;
- Smart medication management: Respective IoT solutions remind patients to refill mediation or trigger notification to the caregivers when the medication was not taken;
- Connected medical devices: Connected devices like Continuous glucose monitors, smart insulin pens and smart inhalers help people with chronic diseases effectively manage their states and ease the burden on the healthcare providers.
All these examples show the potential of IoT to improve the health of the nation while reducing the healthcare costs and, peculiar to the industry, staff burnout. Such an outcome is a great promise for the industry considering the aging of a global population and the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases.
IoT in Healthcare: Pros
The examples of healthcare IT solutions using IoT technology have already given a glimpse into its benefits. However, let us review the pros of IoT in healthcare in mode detail, grouping them in four major themes:
1. Reducing hospitalization rates
The use of IoT in healthcare allows real-time remote monitoring of patients that, in its turn, allows to avoid hospitalization. The task of supervision is partly transferred to the technology reducing the workload of doctors. At the same time, patients and their relatives experience less stress normally associated with long-term hospitalization.
2. Effective diseases prevention
Traditionally, disease prevention has been associated with regular check-ins with therapists, which takes much time and drives healthcare costs up. With IoT, this is no longer the case. Smart devices can analyze health and environment conditions as well as lifestyle habits, issue recommendations on preventative measures, and even track how well people follow them.
3. More effective treatment
There are two factors making IoT software in healthcare affect treatment effectiveness. First is medical data accessibility: having immediate access to electronic medical records, doctors can make more informed decisions and predict complications. The second factor is improved treatment management including smart management of drugs administration and real-time monitoring of responses to treatment.
4. Improved administration and research
Collecting information about the staff and equipment performance, IoT solutions considerably facilitate the administration of hospitals and inform innovative practices. What is more, it has a high potential for healthcare research: it is easier to engage connected devices than patients in research and the first are sure to provide more accurate and unbiased data.
The Cons of Implementing IoT in Healthcare
Despite all the benefits, full-scale digitization of healthcare and an increase in the number and complexity of connected devices pose certain threats and challenges the industry should envision. Here are the three major concerns:
1. Security and Privacy
Breach of security in IoT in healthcare is still the greatest risk as it may result in identity theft, leak of personal information about health issues, and even the risk of murder. The latter may happen if criminals block sensor data calling for emergency response, delete contraindications from electronic personal records or access connected healthcare equipment and cause its malfunction.
2. Dependence on Technology
Digitalization makes hospitals more reliant on technology; thus, hardware failures or software bugs may put healthcare operations at risk and even paralyze the work of the entire department. What’s more, the cost of digitalization and technology maintenance is quite high.
3. No Unified IoT Protocols
Another disadvantage is the reliance on independent manufacturers of IoT devices and the lack of consensus regarding IoT protocols. As a result, devices may not work well together or the functionality of devices produced by different manufacturers may have varying characteristics. This way, making doctors free from some tasks, they may be burdened by others like the study of the peculiarities of IoT healthcare solutions.
IoT – The Future of Healthcare
As it can be seen from the Business Insider report and the interest of large tech giants like Apple, Google and Samsung, IoT healthcare technology is here to stay. If you want to implement IoT in healthcare to the best industry standards overcoming possible compliance and security risks, it is vital to partner with a reliable IT consulting company. Get in touch to find out more about the FPT experience and solutions for digital transformation in healthcare.