IoT in Healthcare

Healthcare IoT

While IoT has many use cases in almost any industry, it seems that the healthcare sector could benefit the most from clever IoT integration. Even basic patient monitoring requires a lot of resources. With an increasing elderly population and chronic diseases on the rise, the demand for new solutions is bigger than ever before. Being able to monitor, diagnose, treat and operate on patients remotely would significantly elevate any doctor’s productivity. Preventional, diagnostic and therapeutic medicine all benefit from smart IoT integration, and it can be considered a win-win situation for all stakeholders (hospitals, health care providers, insurance companies and patients).

Smartwatch to combat depression

Apple is trying to detect depression levels through its smartwatch. Many people are regularly treated for depression. The smartwatch can track an upcoming episode and can provide its wearer with helpful suggestions on what to do and where to seek help. Next to IoT, there is also a big AI component to this innovative approach. A psychologist can also extract the collected data to gain valuable insights into the patient’s mental condition. In addition, this feature can be connected to other apps on the watch, that are known to help prevent or sooth depression episodes, such as fitness or sleep monitoring apps.

Remote Patient Monitoring

Closely monitoring patients is expensive, it requires a lot of labour force and amenities to keep someone under medical surveillance. Using IoT, remote patient monitoring is now possible in a variety of ways. Wearable or ingestible devices with integrated sensors can monitor a patient’s health 24/7 and deliver real-time information to doctors.
Monitoring patients’ health remotely is beneficial to everyone. It reduces travel time, saves hospitalization costs. Advanced ingestible sensors would even be able to notify the doctors if a patient has not taken his medicine yet.

Robots used in Surgical Procedures

Nowadays, doctors are using surgical robots to conduct surgeries more precisely than ever before. One prime example of this is the da Vinci surgical system. An ergonomic surgical robot that enables surgeons to perform precise, quick prostatectomies (removal of the entire prostate due to benign, malign or inflammatory prostate disease) with minimal risk. The benefits of procedures like this are astounding: Pain-free procedure, lower risk of infection, shorter hospital stay post-surgery, less scaring (as incisions are much smaller because of laparoscopic as opposed retropubic access), less blood loss, faster return to everyday life and less likely to damage nerve endings causing temporary or even permanent incontinence or erectile dysfunction.

In other types of surgeries, the use of surgery robots also enables doctors to perform an operation remotely. This may save many lives in conflict areas that are not easily accessible to medical experts. However, some serious security concerns arise, when surgical robots that control a person’s life are connected to the internet.

Monitoring Parkinson’s Patients

Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease need to be monitored at all times. IoT applications that can detect irregular footsteps, unstable stride lengths offer a realistic solution. The sensors upload this data to the cloud, where doctors can remotely check and analyse this data and provide relatives, friends or caretakers of those patients relevant advice on what to do next. Analysing symptoms makes early detection possible. FOG (freezing of gait) – a movement-inhibiting condition strongly associated with Parkinson’s – can be detected as well.

Diabetes Monitoring Systems

Diabetes is a chronic disease, that needs to be monitored 24/7. Incorrect dosages or delayed insulin administration can be life-threatening for diabetes patients. Diabetes is caused by a dysfunctional pancreas. The pancreas gland is responsible for producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the glucose level in a person’s bloodstream. When the pancreas produces insufficient amounts of insulin, blood sugar levels can fluctuate. This fluctuation can cause damage to our organs. IoT applications, such as Lifescan’s Onetouch system, have embedded body sensors, can constantly monitor a patient’s blood sugar and can send data regarding glucose level to the health care practitioner, thus drastically reducing the risk of death by diabetes.

Monitoring drug shipments using Blockchain

Transporting medical products, such as medicine or even organs, is not as simple as it seems. They cannot be damaged under any circumstances. An organ that was exposed to shock damage, or a pill that lost its active ingredient due to heat exposure during shipping may result in death. The Modum Network Token is a cryptocurrency that offers solutions to the logistics of fragile medical products. The Switzerland-based company aims to provide data integrity during transactions of medicinal products. Using the approach promoted by the modem token, problems related to product safety, authenticity and contract management can be mitigated.

How exactly does the modem token work and why does this system need a currency?
Modum sensors are recording the environmental conditions, which the tracked medical goods are exposed to during transit. When the tracked products change ownership, the data gathered by the sensors is checked against the terms agreed upon previously by both parties through a smart contract. This smart contract verifies whether all of the conditions have been met and only then, it initiates several actions, such as: sending notifications to both sender and receiver, paying the sender, and releasing the goods. The entire process is fueled and maintained by the Modum token.

Nurse Assistant Robot

Even though this may seem a little bit too futuristic at the moment, robots that assist nurses in hospitals will be an extraordinary advancement. A definite imminent future milestone in patient caretaking. Robots may provide medicine and equipment to the nurses or send alerts for specific tasks. They spare nurses mundane, repetitive tasks, allowing them to save their energy and cognitive capacity for responsible tasks the robots can’t do themselves. This solution may also benefit patients, as they might feel more secure to have someone watch over them during nighttime.

Japan is at the forefront of AI research and robotics innovation. Nurse robots are no exception here, thanks to Riken and Sumitomo Riko labs. They have developed a robotic bear, designed to assist in elderly care. This bear can lift patients, transfer them to a wheelchair or bed or even carry them from A to B.