The internet of things has wide application across different sector such as energy, utilities, urban transport. Another key application that the internet of thing has is in the healthcare sector. When we talk of IoT in healthcare, the smart technologies are used either in medical system integrations or to manage data of a hospital.
This integration of IoT into medical devices helps in enhancing the services delivered to customers as well as improve the operational efficiency of hospitals. Besides, there are many other applications of IoT software like RFID that helps improve the hospital’s efficiency by managing workflow.
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How to Integrate IoT with Healthcare
IoT has numerous applications in the healthcare sector. From the task of monitoring a baby through devices to managing the entire gamut of inventory that a healthcare facility has to be taken care of with the integration of IoT. Some of the applications which are widely being used in the healthcare sector and needs to be integrated with IoT for better results have been enumerated below
Management of Inventory
Managing a huge hospital inventory such as medical equipment and other medicines in pharmacy manually is a complex task. With the evolution of internet of things, applications such as enterprise resource planning software can help track the vast inventory. Gone are the days when records were fed into books and kept into the enclosures. This enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution consists of a series of a module that captures the data electronically and links to a programme. For instance, the software can also be used to manage accounts that are the financial management. Therefore, through this IoT software, managing, monitoring and accessing hospital details become hassle-free.
Integration with Medical Systems
Another remarkable contribution that IoT has in healthcare is the integration of sensors and software in medical equipment and devices. As consumers are increasingly becoming technology savvy, companies are trying to capture the market and provide smart healthcare devices. The major equipment in question here is the in-home devices such as glucometers, blood pressure meters, fitness brands and many other devices used mainly for gauging vital signs and statistics. These smart devices help monitor the health and intervene earlier in the process of healthcare provision.
Optimizing the Workflow
Tracking of workflow and inventory is another important case which required supervision. However, tracking of several medicines and other assets becomes difficult and this sometimes leads to inconsistencies in orders and supplied products. This is where IoT has wider and important application. RFID (Radio-frequency Identification) tags can be used to track inventory as it reduced the amount of time spent in counting the inventory. Thus, RFID helps maintain accurate data and effectively monitor the medicines and drugs currently available. The RFID tags have antennas and readers which can be read through a hand-held device. Further, it helps optimise the workflow as any inconsistencies in inventory is taken care of.
It sometimes becomes difficult to track the liquid medicines with RFID. To provide a solution, companies have started developed tamper proof RFID tags. These tags can also be used in parcels containing special drugs and lifesaving medicines which require authentication.
Besides, passive and active RFID is being used to track patients and staff throughout the hospital. Passive RFID store information on a wristband of patients. The wristband has a small chip inside with stores the encoded information. Through this, the patient information is verified and wait time is reduced.
What are the Challenges of Integrating IoT with Healthcare
Though the application that IoT has in the healthcare sector is laudable and proves to be efficient, the challenges involved in its usage are also a cause for concern. These challenges are the main impediments to the faster adoption of these smart technologies.
Threat to Data
The usage of IoT for managing huge healthcare database is a risky proposition for many hospitals. There are concerns about hackers pervading healthcare data. As hospitals deal with a lot of patients daily, storing and managing their data digitally though becomes essential but it brings with it a certain amount of risk. This risk is essentially of losing the data or stealing of the data. While checking a patient, if the doctor is unable to access the past prescriptions and medical history then this creates further barriers to the treatment. Also, records about the revenue and staff are also part of the integrated system which if lost proves to be harmful to the hospital.
Failure of ERH integration
Another nightmare that doctors don’t want to face is the failure of information integration with electric health record (EHR) will compromise on the readiness of the hospital. The barrier to interoperability of patient’s information and technical challenges in sharing information such as reports and tests makes a strong case for its low adoption. Other barriers such as cumbersome workflow data, additional cost associated with sharing information also slow down its adoption.
The Bottom Line
Despite the many challenges that are evident while integrating IoT with the healthcare system, its adoption is increasingly taking the pace and will grow further in the future. Many other technologies and smart devices for monitoring patient’s health and for revealing important statistics are on the anvil, which will further enhance the role of IoT in the healthcare system.