More and more stakeholders in the healthcare industry see IoT as the next big technology to create more patient-oriented and personalized medicine.
Already, IoT developers are bringing technology to hospitals and other healthcare facilities to reduce manual labor. The most common technology applications include the creation and documentation of patient data, remote monitoring, and better management of chronic diseases with wearables.
In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the healthcare industry is also likely to spread the digital healthcare revolution. The Smart Field Hospital, the first facility designed to relieve exhausted healthcare workers in China, provides all services through robots and other IoT devices.
In this article, let’s take a look at the benefits of custom IoT software development for healthcare providers and their patients.
Monitoring Sensors and Apps
- Reducing non-compliance
- Better remote monitoring of chronic conditions.
This is one of the best benefits of technology for the healthcare industry. Custom IoT software designed to take measurements and transmit data to healthcare professionals can drastically improve care for patients with chronic diseases.
Eversense Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) System, for example, is an FDA-approved IoT kit with an under-the-skin sensor to check on blood glucose for up to three months.
Here’s how the system works.
The sensor transmits the patient’s glucose levels to a rechargeable transmitter every five minutes. In turn, the transmitter sends the data to a mobile app in real-time.
Thanks to devices like Eversense, health status and adherence monitoring will become easier for healthcare professionals. The patients will also benefit from the continuous monitoring of their condition and learn how to manage it more effectively.
Moreover, IoT devices like these may help chronic disease patients to avoid unnecessary visits to the local healthcare facility. In difficult times like the COVID-19 outbreak, this can prevent them from taking a risk of exposing themselves to the virus.
- Improved medication adherence
- Visualization of the gut
- Diagnosis of conditions of the gastrointestinal system.
Back in 2017, the FDA approved the first-ever digital pill with an ingestible sensor called Abilify MyCite. Since then, numerous pharmaceutical companies have developed similar sensors and pills, making it easier to track medication compliance and diagnose gastrointestinal issues.
Proteus is one of these solutions. Developed to improve patient-centric healthcare, it’s a system for improving medicine-taking and health monitoring.
The system consists of a pill-sized ingestible sensor, a mobile sensor patch, and an app that sends the data to an online portal. The patient activates the system by taking the pill.
The pill starts transmitting data to the sensor when it reaches the stomach. To make the data accessible for analysis, the sensor redirects it to the mobile app.
Besides revealing a patient’s medication adherence, ingestible sensors measure their activity and rest patterns. Smart pills, in turn, can visualize the inside of the gut.
“Thanks to an advanced IoT technology, the size of a smart pill is comparable to a traditional one,” says Wanda Ogbah, a healthcare researcher at Studicus. “The patients don’t experience discomfort taking them and make it easier for the physicians to track their condition.”
Digital Dispensing Systems (“Smart Pill Bottles”)
- Reducing non-adherence
- Improving the management of chronic conditions
- Enhance the outcomes of hypertension and diabetes patients.
A “smart pill bottle” is an internet-linked, wireless pill bottle that reminds about taking the medication as required by treatment plans.
Yes, this is yet another method of using digital health IoT solutions to improve medication adherence. One just can’t stress the importance of being compliant enough, as up to 50 percent of chronic patients fail to take prescription medications.
“The digital dispensing system issues one or more doses only at predefined times and locks down automatically,” according to Mark Suissa, a medical writer at WowGrade. “To begin using the bottle, the user needs to configure these times as well as other settings via a mobile app, which keeps all the records.”
Pill Connect is one of the best examples of this technology. It’s a combination of a smart bottle containing about 30 pills and an app. Thanks to the app, a physician or another healthcare professional can access the information to monitor and evaluate medication adherence.
As you can see, the smart pill bottle looks like a typical one. The interface of the app is simplified to make the use easier for patients of different smartphone skills.
If the patient doesn’t administer the dose of medication as required, Pill Connect notifies their physician through the app. This way, an action can be taken to remind the patient to take the pills.
IoT Asset Tracking Systems
- Better management of clinical equipment
- Reducing the number of lost or stolen equipment items.
The healthcare industry loses millions of dollars due to lost or stolen equipment. One of the most prominent incidents occurred in the Santa Clara Medical Center in the Bay Area. In 2015, the facility reported losing equipment worth over $11 million.
“We found that we really had a broken inventory system,” NBC quoted Jeff Smith, the County Executive, as saying.
According to Smith, the administrative structure in charge of ensuring an appropriate inventory of the center’s equipment and items was eliminated. The poor practices resulted in a lack of any evidence of the equipment being misplaced.
To eliminate the problem, healthcare facilities are turning to real-time location systems (RTLS). Thanks to mobile tags attached to assets, they can track their location in real-time. By observing the location, the hospitals can detect the unintentional replacement of items as well as possible stealing attempts.
Due to the small size, it’s possible to attach tags to both large hospital equipment and small items. They transmit the data to data hubs that send it to the cloud. The user of the RTLS accesses the cloud and monitors the movements of the tracked items in real-time.
The Future of IoT Software in Healthcare
Even though the adoption of technologies like these is yet to become widespread, we’re definitely moving in that direction. The benefits are well-known and worthwhile, so we should see more examples of custom IoT software in different healthcare areas in the next few years.
These are just some of the most important advantages that IoT software brings to the table. By connecting healthcare professionals with patients, it has the potential to reduce the problem of poor medication compliance. Having this technology ready to assist both healthcare professionals and patients, the industry can improve personalization of medical services.