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Internet of Things in healthcare: What's next for IoT technology in the health sector

Graysen Christopher | July 20, 2016
How Internet of Things technology is changing the healthcare industry

Inova Design's CEO Leon Marsh agrees: "The potential with IoT is that throughout a whole care pathway a person's data is continuously being gathered and used to help diagnose the patient so they can receive the best treatment as quickly as possible."

Ideally, the objective data that could be taken from a network of IoT devices will also be able to significantly lower margins of error. And in the predictive realm, it could, for example, be able to detect the onset of a wide range of health issues, from high blood pressure to early signs of delirium.

Emergency admissions could then, in theory, be reduced - with proactive health systems in place to address the problems before they become more serious or irreversible.

More generally, data from a network of IoT devices has the potential to transform the check-in process, filling in past health data for professionals to review automatically. That could be anything from blood pressure to weight.

Some businesses want to make it possible to attend a full healthcare appointment from the comfort of your home, so health specialists from around the world can provide a consultation or even diagnosis from hundreds of miles away.

One such app is Babylon, which recently acquired $25 million in investment funding led by Investment AB Kinnevik. Babylon is an app for iOS and Android devices that allows users to talk with a wide range of trained professionals, from therapists to doctors.

It's not difficult to imagine well-designed apps becoming a common facet of patient-centred care, allowing people to monitor themselves on a daily basis and note any questions or concerns to forward on to their healthcare provider. Self-monitoring is also meant to create an aspect of control for the user, and could even help to provide a deeper understanding of one's own illness -as some people tend to get overwhelmed or confused in the clinical environment of a doctor's surgery or hospital.

Roadblocks

But technology on its own can never be viewed as a panacea, and there are certain roadblocks in place that threaten to slow adoption.

One such concern is security: people sometimes feel uncomfortable knowing that their highly personal data is being stored and accessed. Patient record systems need to be heavily secured, and as such, it can prove difficult for new, off-the-shelf devices to access all the necessary information.

Data security requirements could hinder some of the useful functions of devices and prevent patient records from being retrieved. Explicit user consent would need to be in place before a network of devices could speak with each other and integrate all of this data.

Whether it's private healthcare or public hospitals, health organisations will need to adjust their security policies to specifically adapt to the oncoming wave of IoT.

 

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