IoT Healthcare 2020
Over the years, technological innovations in the healthcare industry have lead to improved diagnostics and increased the quality of patient care. From advancements in experimental prosthetic technology to the use of artificial intelligence in retinopathy diagnosis, healthcare is developing at a rapid pace. While the Internet of Things (IoT) has already been a key aspect of the healthcare movement, recent events have highlighted its current and future potential in healthcare technology.
Better sanitation and disinfection of medical facilities and equipment
In order to protect the health of medical workers, companies like TMiRob, UVD, and Xenex Disinfection Services have invented self-driving internet-controlled robots that sanitize and disinfect surfaces in hospitals and healthcare centers. They can be remotely connected to apps, emitting UV rays to destroy viruses and other pathogens. As well as being sold in Japan, they are in use across China, Italy, and the USA. According to the equipment manufacturer Terumo, they emit light waves between 200 and 315 nanometers to eliminate multidrug-resistant bacteria as well as the Ebola virus. In today’s climate, the LightStrike model has demonstrated to be 99.9% effective in destroying coronavirus pathogens on N95 masks, which is extremely beneficial amid the global shortage of protective equipment.
Medical trackers enable remote patient monitoring and diagnostics
For patients who are unable to leave their homes, fitness trackers and more specialized medical trackers can monitor vital signs and remotely transmit data to healthcare professionals. For wearables, designers should consider how PCB thickness impacts comfort as well as overall functionality. For instance, smartwatches like Apple Watches and Fitbits can provide data on baseline heart rates. A study from Stanford University aims to build a new algorithm to spot unusual patterns in heart rate data, to let patients know when their bodies are in the process of recovery. Scripps Research is doing a similar study, and they aim to help public health responders and individuals identify when they’re getting a respiratory-related viral illness, whether it’s COVID-19, or the flu. While more research is needed to make detection more accurate, this can potentially improve diagnostic processes in the future.
Telemedicine improves the accessibility of healthcare
Due to social distancing measures, many individuals are unable or unwilling to visit hospitals and receive the care that they need. To prevent the spread of illnesses, telemedicine is becoming more popular than ever, enabling the remote delivery of health care services. In India, mfine, an AI-Powered online doctor consultation app, has seen a 25% increase in the number of online users every week. Through various partnerships with hospitals and healthcare centers, telemedicine companies aim to make healthcare more accessible to minority populations, while simultaneously minimizing the exposure of healthcare professionals to potential viruses and infections.
The introduction of smart pills can improve treatment and care
One key advancement in medical treatment is the introduction of “smart pills” that contain microscopic sensors to transmit patient data once swallowed, embedding itself in the stomach lining. In the area of research development, Proteus Discover’s smart pill can measure how effective treatments are in general. They help tell doctors when patients have taken their medicine, because for certain conditions like cancer, depression, and schizophrenia, patients can struggle to stick to a schedule. It also keeps track of their activity levels, so that physicians can make better recommendations for their health.
With the growing number of smartphone users worldwide and the introduction of 5G, the public is catching on to how easy online channels are for medical purposes, as well as retail use. Furthermore, measures to protect healthcare professionals such as remotely operated sanitizing mechanisms are more likely to be deployed in the future. Lastly, with the widespread impact of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19, the input of medical trackers and fitness devices are invaluable in providing early detection and treatment.