The Internet of Things, or IoT as it is commonly called, is a series of interacting devices using the internet as a layer for communication. Even this definition is not completely capturing the robustness of the IoT IT movement as the internet is not required in all cases for interactions. Many other protocols beyond TCP/IP are being used for IoT infrastructures.
IoT is all about making our lives better by having devices that can connect together to accomplish tasks related to requirements in real day life. In the field of Health IT, huge inroads can be made in a short time based on the introduction of numerous low cost sensors into the world that can be connected together by hobbyist IT workers.
There are several blogs and articles talking about scenarios that are possible however most of them are based on home automation needs. We’ve put together a few potential health IT scenarios to think about, and hopefully generate some discussion.
Many treatments require patients be monitored in terms of collecting their vital signs, some additional bits of information and using that data to specialize a treatment course of action. Home monitoring of patients can save the healthcare industry a huge amount of money as hospital beds and support staff are not required to pander to patients ordinary day-to-day needs like meals, bed making and laundry.
IoT devices can be used to monitor a person’s vital signs or other health metrics that would determine whether or not they are recovering properly or on an anomalous course. Ideally, these devices will be working in the background, unobtrusively collecting data and monitoring the patient, only making actions known when there is a need to.
Using stepper motors, controllers and remote sensing technologies, a surgeon could actually participate in an operation from a remote destination. This would scare most of us given the potential for a power outage or other disruption in the middle of the surgery however this pattern is possible in the not-so-distant future.
The ability to “sense” the feel and touch aspects would be very important. Providing haptic feedback to the remote surgeon would be imperative to make these scenarios work properly.
Since many patients have smart phones or tablets, it is very possible today to use those devices to prompt a patient to take medication or provide a sample for analysis. The analysis can be done in some cases by remote sensors. Alcohol breath sensors and other similar items cost less than ten dollars each.
The use of these sensors in conjunction with a prompting technology could offer patients much better treatment options by keeping the prescribed timetable for ingesting medications or performing critical exercises.
In cases where a patient has recently had a surgery that requires rest, a small unobtrusive devices could be attached to a patient’s body to measure muscle output or strain to ensure they are warned before they try to lift a heavy object or somehow over-excerpt themselves physically. The warnings could prevent re-injury.
With a steady decrease in the costs of sensors and hardware, IoT is rapidly becoming a reality across healthcare. How do you see IoT taking shape in the next few years and how will it impact patient care?