We are leaving behind a radically transformative time for healthcare. Not that long ago, pen and paper remained the primary means of recording patient information. However, since the onset of the pandemic, many healthcare organisations have accelerated their digital transformation programmes and achieved significant improvements in the maturity of organisational capabilities for digital and data.
These are exciting times. Over the coming months and years, we expect healthcare organisations to harness the potential of these enhanced capabilities and work with some of the most advanced technologies and analytical techniques to transform service provision and improve the lives of patients.
Surely, the biggest data and analytics trend right now and one that will surely continue for years to come is the Internet of Things (IoT). And for good reason. The IoT enables organisations to collect and integrate data from various internet connected devices, or “things” with sensors, and automatically apply analytics to them. Because IoT platforms can pinpoint exactly what information is useful and what can safely be ignored, it negates the need for human intervention. This can reduce time to action and improving understanding of what interventions will help citizens.
The IoT can be used to detect patterns, make recommendations, and detect possible problems before they occur. The move towards an inter-connected IoT is staggering. IoT Analytics expects the global number of connected IoT devices to grow 18%, to 14.5 billion active endpoints this year. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), in particular, is set to skyrocket. The global spend on IoT in healthcare is forecast to grow to $260.75 Billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 19.8%. The market growth is driven by increasing focus on active patient engagement and patient-centric care, growth of high-speed network technologies for IoT connectivity, and the surging need for the adoption of cost-control measures in the healthcare sector.
A paradigm shift
With the IoT, data comes to the fore. Medical practitioners can use this real-time data to render immediate services and track resources such as staff, assets, patients, and more. Through more significant use of personal devices such as smartwatches, medical practitioners can collect data on sleep patterns, blood pressure, ECG patterns, and more to enable real-time assessment of patients. It is a paradigm shift in care. Especially for elderly patients, as they can now continue their care in the comfort of their own home. The fact that IoT allows a constant tracking of their health conditions without any major disturbance to their daily life is a big plus for patients.
Through the IoT, digital leaders have more information available than ever before. Think of adult social care. By using data, and working as part of an integrated care system, healthcare professionals can understand what the demand is going to be by each patient. They can better know who ‘Molly’ is, when she’s likely to hit the system and what support she’ll need. They can also ascertain who is best placed to support her, and what in-home technology solutions can be used to assist in her care.
Apart from monitoring patients’ health, there are many other areas where IoT devices are very useful in hospitals. IoT sensors can be used to track real time location of medical equipment like wheelchairs, defibrillators, nebulizers, oxygen pumps and other monitoring equipment. They can also help in asset management like pharmacy inventory control, and environmental monitoring, for instance, to check refrigerator temperature and humidity control. IoT sensors can help with human assets too. Through analysing where staff are located, staff can be deployed across different locations to ease pinch points.
Through the power of the IoT, the use of data in providing optimum care is coming to the fore. Real-time monitoring systems and connected devices are being leveraged to gather extensive data recording and analysis. Underpinned by AI (Artificial Intelligence), the IoT is revolutionising patient care and minimising errors. It has improved functional efficiency, enabled better patient care, improved disease management, and benefitted treatment outcomes. Overall, the use of IoT in healthcare is making care more cost-effective, thanks to early detection and intervention. It’s a win, win.