The Healthcare Industry Could Have a Lot Riding on IoT
Published on 23 Sep, 2016
The Internet of Things (IoT) has opened up a world of possibilities that make the world of tomorrow seem closer than ever before.
Although just a small sub-set of IoT’s potential applications, its ability to revolutionize the mundane in healthcare and medicine is spurring some interesting developments.
For starters, you wouldn’t have to lug around your own paperwork.
By harnessing the cloud and eliminating the usual challenges related to exchanging and analyzing patient data — traditionally faced by healthcare providers — you could simply walk in to your nearest clinic for a checkup without fretting if they’ve got you on file.
If you’ve got a prescription to fill out, just send it to a pill printer from where you’ll pick it up later. Or better yet, you’ll have an online connected healthcare marketplace at your fingertips. Just log in, have your doc’s system automatically tell them what you need, and have it sent home without any hassles.
If you’re worried about counterfeit pills or someone skimming off your package, don’t.
Chances are your prescription order is secured by something like SMARTpack, an IoT-enabled product developed by UK-based Eurosoft Systems Ltd. (ESL). With smart packaging, tracking, and counterfeit protection, you can be sure your package hasn’t been tampered with. It’s a pretty nifty system that assures you (and your pharmacy) that you’re getting a pristine product.
By now, you’ve got to ask yourself - if I don’t have to visit the pharmacy to fill out a prescription, then why the trek to a clinic?
Well, with wearable (sometimes discrete) devices, you wouldn’t have to go to a doctor in the first place.
Innovative new sensors with seamless wireless connectivity are transforming conventional healthcare processes. Remote devices monitoring vital information (think fitness trackers) are already pretty commonplace. Policy makers wouldn’t mind transferring the point of diagnosis and treatment from the clinic to a patient’s home. It’ll allow better operational control and efficiency, with centralized monitoring. We’re talking about seriously reliable (and affordable) healthcare. Remote data from medical devices will enable real-time monitoring and sharing, empowering real-time decision making to administer preventive treatment that could reduce the need for hospitalization as well as other costs.
This is pretty important in countries like the US, which spend approximately 18% of their GDP on healthcare every year.
IoT technology can reduce the need for physical checkups and appointments, saving time, and cutting expenditures significantly. Through remote monitoring, medical professionals can perform diagnostics, improve adherence to prescribed therapies, check on medical equipment, make provisions for better chronic disease management, and ensure connected care for the aged — all without having to physically consult a doctor.
In the US — the biggest market for healthcare services right now — estimates suggest that IoT could shave over USD 300 billion off of conventional expenditures. Similarly, using connected medical devices could reduce the cost of remote hospitalization by €17 billion in the EU.
Not only could IoT revolutionize diagnostics and healthcare, it could also better the pharmaceutical industry.
Connected devices on the production floor could enable the aggregation of data from multiple departments. This can also be possible across manufacturing plants that are distributed globally. It’ll allow real-time supervision (and optimization) of manufacturing and logistic activities from any location at any point of time, thus minimizing waste, increasing equipment utilization, and lowering production costs.
Apotex, a Canadian pharmaceutical manufacturer, knows this well.
Apotex recently applied IoT to their manufacturing and supply chain, improving their processes through automation. Automation tools such as guided vehicles, RFID tracking, sorting and process flow tracking enabled the company to ensure consistent batch production. Real-time visibility into manufacturing operations increased the company’s productivity, improving their bottom-line, and possibly, allowing them to pass on the savings to customers.
IoT may be in its nascent stages of development, but its eventual impact across the global healthcare space is indisputable.
A diverse range of applications will allow IoT to shift the industry toward an affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare ecosystem.
With the patient’s best interests at the core of an intelligent system that leverages cutting-edge technological innovations, you can expect a radically different — and better — outpatient experience.
This first appeared on ETtech.com.