07.08.2015

The future of Medicine will be shaped by the Internet of Things

Image | Teddy The Guardian

The usefulness of the Internet of the Things in our lives is obvious if we just think of how many Web-connected devices we use every day, and not just mobiles or computers: cars, alarms, television sets and now even medical devices draw upon connectivity. All of these are products that seek to augment levels of efficiency and automation to make our daily routines easier.

In this regard Medicine is one of the fields that will be most heavily impacted by the IoT, an industry in which connected objects and pilot projects featuring wireless devices are more and more frequent. With the aid of connected objects the work of qualified medical personnel can be rendered much more immediate and precise, in addition to facilitating the management of hospitals and improving patients’ well-being. The intrinsic features of connected objects, like work in real time, tracking via Wi-Fi connections, and the use of wearables, make success possible when the Internet of Things is applied to Healthcare.

Devices that make use of the IoT focus on achieving two objectives: firstly, the monitoring of patients and control over their surroundings; secondly, the creation of follow-up systems for after the patient’s release from the medical facility.

IOTH2

Image | Bam Labs

Continuous patient monitoring

In a hospital’s day-to-day operations tools that facilitate smart monitoring represent a major advance for the profession, as connected devices make it possible to track patients’ situations, in detail and in real time.

At the practical level, for example, the use of smart beds allows medical staff to determine whether a bed is currently occupied and when a patient gets out of it. These beds also adjust automatically to provide the pressure and support that the patient needs, without the need for nurses to perform manual actions. On site at hospitals, the Internet of Things also makes it possible to control the temperatures of different areas, and to document the locations of medical equipment in a totally centralised way.

The major advantage with the use of the Internet of Things is that practically any object can be connected to the Web. Such is the case with this teddy bear: the hospitalised child will entertain himself by playing with it, while the object takes his temperature, pulse, and the oxygen level in his blood. This smart device is already being tried out at hospitals in the United Kingdom, Bosnia and Croatia.

Treatment does not end with one’s discharge from the hospital

All these forms of care would be incomplete if patients did not receive attention after leaving their medical facilities, especially when they have chronic conditions. How can one ensure that patients continue to take their medications? On the market there are now connected bottles of pills that send information on the amount of medicine that a person is taking.

For when patients get back home, wearables are highly recommended devices. Tracking from home makes it possible to prevent diseases, and alerts patients’ doctors in the event of arrhythmias or the first symptoms of cardiac problems.

Having reached this point, the Medicine of tomorrow is inconceivable without the Internet and new technologies. The trends make it clear that we are on our way towards a society whose devices will be so easy to use that they soon will become part of patients’ day-to-day lives, enhancing their quality of life.