IoT platforms are the support software that connects everything in an IoT system; hence many consider them as middleware. An IoT platform facilitates communication, data flow and device management and application functionality, serving as a bridge between user-oriented data and applications, connecting access points, peripheral hardware, data networks and the applications.
Whether they are used to track patients’ vital signs remotely or to control dispensers of medicines in the home, the increase of new IoT solutions in the field of health care is evident. Smart sensors are implemented allowing data to be collected in real time. This data can be added, stored and correlated to generate new information more quickly and accurately, which will ultimately be an important driver of the digital transformation of the health sector.
The role of IoT platforms in the transformation of the health sector
As a next-generation technology, IoT accelerates innovation by enabling a new information management strategy that transforms the patient experience, optimizes operational models and organizes internal and external resources. The data confirm its potential:
- By 2020, adoption rates of inventory management and asset tracking systems enabled by IoT in hospitals will have doubled worldwide, improving patient safety, staff satisfaction and operational efficiency (IDC).
- It is expected that 50 percent of medical care in the coming years will be provided through virtual IoT platforms. In addition, health service providers must collaborate to share information and knowledge to offer the best health services in their class (IDC).
- McKinsey predicts that 40 percent of the global economic impact of the IoT revolution will occur in healthcare.
In the health sector, IoT is renamed IoMT, a revolution in itself that defines the new generation of medical care and that is expected to bring us closer to solving issues such as those related to the aging of the population or the shortage of health workers.
Thus, IoT platforms make it possible:
- Collect and store data in real time in a central or distributed location.
- Configure alarms and notifications with different rules and defined thresholds.
- Predict trends and detect changes.
- Make new discoveries related to specific diseases or to the health of a specific patient.
Examples of cases of use of IoT platforms in the health sector
The cases of use of IoT platforms in the health sector are increasingly diverse, although two could be highlighted. It is about the following:
Monitoring the health of a patient with IoT platforms
Cases in which the physiological state requires close monitoring can be observed continuously using non-invasive monitoring driven by the IoT platforms. This type of solution uses sensors to collect comprehensive physiological information, using the cloud to analyze and store the information, and sending the analyzed data to the health watchers via wifi for further analysis. IoT eliminates the need for a healthcare professional at regular intervals to verify a patient’s vital signs by providing a continuous flow of automated information. By reducing the need for a caregiver to be actively involved in the collection and analysis of data, the quality of the service is improved, avoiding human errors, and the cost of patient care is reduced.
Control of habits in patients and healthy people with IoT platforms
Devices enabled with IoMT can also provide a health guide with systems to control diet, physical activity and quality of life. Innovative devices, from wearables to implantable chips or integrated systems in biomedical devices, continuously collect data on patients’ activities and related vital changes. Advanced sensors, converters and firmware in smart devices also allow users to analyze and correlate various vital signs with health conditions in real time.
In addition to these examples of adoption of IoMT, IoT platforms allow us to offer better medical care in many ways, by making it possible to:
- Capture patient data, monitor it and manage it in more innovative ways.
- Closely follow up patients, staff and medical devices.
- Improve the patient’s hospital flow.
- Optimize environmental control
- Acquire a more complete view of all areas of the health center or hospital.
- Improve the control and efficacy in the administration of medicines.
- Manage the clinical workflow more intelligently.
Managing the volume of disparate data from a series of devices and applying intelligence to the stored data collected is not possible with traditional platforms, but with the support of IoMT platforms.
Although to enjoy all its applications, it is necessary to overcome challenges such as those related to the need to have backup systems in place in the event of failure or updating of equipment, avoid overloading doctors with too much data and solve the concern for privacy and data security.