The Internet of Things (IoT) space has expanded rapidly in the last decade. The technology consists of smart devices that link up with one another through mobile applications, providing companies with innovative solutions that were previously unavailable.
The healthcare industry is benefitting greatly from advancements in IoT technology that reduce wait times in emergency rooms, monitor patient’s vitals remotely and more. In fact, according to Statista, the number of healthcare IoT device installations is expected to grow from 101 million in 2018 to 161 million by the end of 2020. Here are some of the most prevalent IoT applications for healthcare at the today.
Reducing Emergency Room Admission Wait Times
Most major metropolitan areas, as well some rural regions, have a shortage of healthcare professionals and hospitals. Because of this shortage, patients sometimes wait hours or even days to get medical assistance and a room (if they need one) when visiting the ER.
Now, some hospitals are developing IoT applications to reduce these long wait times, including the Mt. Sinai Medical Center. The New York hospital worked with GE to develop a mobile app called AutoBed which connects to beds and medical equipment in order to inform staff when a bed is available.
The application has been a boon for Mt. Sinai, as AutoBed can process up to 80 bed requests while simultaneously tracking the occupancy of 1,200 beds. Plus, the software considers 15 patient requirements, including nurse proximity, in order to reduce the wait time of emergency rooms and increase the efficiency of hospital staff.
Mt. Sinai has about 1,100 beds and it admits 59,000 patients every year, so roughly 90% of the organization’s beds are occupied at any given time. Thanks to AutoBed, the hospital has reduced wait times for emergency room patients by 50%. Additionally, the software gives priority to patients who most need medical help based on the severity of their condition.
Monitoring Patients Remotely with IoT Applications for Healthcare
After a patient visits a hospital or clinic, it can be difficult for healthcare professionals to keep tabs on that patient until their next visit―until recently, that is. Now, medical devices can link up to mobile apps that doctors and nurses use to monitor a patient’s health remotely.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) makes it easy to monitor a patient’s health and treat them, regardless of where they’re located. The type of monitoring and care depends on the patient’s condition; an IoT application can exist in the form of an airflow monitor, an implanted cardiac device, a glucose monitor or something entirely different.
Whatever the device may be, healthcare workers can use RPM technology to amass data on a patient. This data is then sent back to a database to be analyzed in real-time, allowing doctors to take action if the patient’s vitals are abnormal.
The Boston-based Partners HealthCare Center for Connected Health developed an application that monitors patients’ activity levels and blood pressure. One such program examined congestive heart failure, identifying changes in weight, sleep, heart rate and more. Then, clinicians examined that data to determine how healthy a patient is, leading to a 50% reduction in 30-day hospital readmission rates linked to heart failure.
Over time, such healthcare apps can reduce hospital visits, lower readmission rates and increase the chances of treating illness early on with treatment options that are tailored to a patient’s unique situation.
Improving a Patient’s Health with Smart Medical Devices
Wearable devices are quite popular, with smartwatches such as the Fitbit being widely adopted by individuals seeking to improve their physical health. While these devices can inform a patient about how healthy their habits are, they can’t actually heal them. Thankfully, we now have IoT devices that make recommendations in real-time based on a patient’s condition.
One such device is a smart bandage developed at the Germany-based Fraunhofer Research Institutions for Microsystems and Solid State Technology EMFT. To the naked eye, the bandage looks like your run-of-the-mill band-aid. However, this sophisticated device changes its color according to the infection level of the wound.
The infection level is often determined by the pH level of the skin underneath, as cuts that heal normally usually have a pH of roughly 5 or 6. If the pH content is higher, between 6.5 and 8.5 pH, there may be an infection forming and the bandage will turn purple. This way, patients and medical workers can easily see if the wound is healing properly without removing the bandage.
Other medical IoT devices are being developed as well, such as smart devices that link up to healthcare applications in order to remind patients to take their medication, exercise, check their blood pressure or take other actions. These devices show how IoT technology is making it easier than ever to monitor a patient’s condition.
Just as there are hundreds of health conditions that affect people, there are hundreds of possible applications for IoT technology in the healthcare sphere. Developers can design apps to help patients manage their condition on a day-to-day basis or help healthcare organizations operate more efficiently. Ultimately, this technology will ensure that patients get the effective, timely care they deserve.
Ready to develop an IoT app for your healthcare organization? If so, then turn to 7T. Our development team specializes in custom mobile app development and Internet of Things solutions. In addition, we are well-versed in other cutting-edge technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain and natural language processing.