IoT & Predictive Analytics
In a report by Grand View Research Inc., it’s predicted that the global Internet of Things (IoT) healthcare market will reach nearly $410 billion by 2022, with mobile penetration, software automation, and innovation medical devices promising rapid testing, greater accuracy, portability, and user-friendliness. Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart failure, and hypertension specifically can be better addressed with IoT devices, offering users greater personal independence while still having their vital signs monitored, activity and safety measured, and medication supervised.
IoT Healthcare Solutions
We already have a host of IoT solutions available in the healthcare sector, possibly most prevalent the fitness monitors. But such personal activity trackers are really just a taste of what IoT technology can offer the healthcare industry. Infusion pumps, lighting and heating automation, and record keeping utilizing IoT tech already aid hospitals and healthcare providers, but pioneering organizations are taking a leap forward. Boston Medical Centre, for instance, uses sensors which prevent newborn babies from being removed from the hospital without being signed out, and monitors for patients in the neonatal ICU alert nurses via cell phone when significant changes to vital signs are detected.
Little known and future possibilities include Asthmapolis, an asthma inhaler with built-in GPS-sensor, which records the data of time and location of use. This provides specific environmental information that can help asthma sufferers avoid problem areas. Google and Novartis have teamed up, and a prototype digital contact lens that measures blood sugar levels through tear liquid has been developed, proposing easier management of diabetes. And Vitality’s GlowCabs addresses medication monitoring, an area in which the WHO believes 50% of patients are not correctly following doctors’ advice. Using light and sounds, the GlowCabs system signals users when it’s time to take medication, and once a week a report is sent to GlowCap users containing information about medication use to date.
IoT Security Concerns in Healthcare
The question of security is still being answered by innovators, though, with the medical data collected being particularly sensitive. Notes Anura Fernando, who has served on the FDA Medical Device Interoperability Council, “It’s very challenging in this rapidly moving market. They have to balance safety and effectiveness and innovation. It seems clear-cut but sometimes it’s not. It’s truly a tough balance.” Inappropriate access to or sharing of such data should be addressed not only by the makers of IoT devices but by the organizations that implement them. Data privacy and security policies already in place will have to be updated to include the broader data landscape that IoT devices touch, and adequate encryption and virus protection systems for individual devices will require continuous evolution and updating to ensure new threats are obstructed.
IoT, Predictive Analytics & Healthcare
With the over-abundance of medical data available, and increasing exponentially day by day, predictive analytics tools offer a better way to quickly unearth relevant insights. Infection surveillance systems are growing in popularity, helping prevent hospital-acquired infections, monitor surgical risks, and predict outbreaks of deadly diseases. Already a $260 million market, analysts forecast a growth of 14.1% CAGR to 2021. Moreover, with healthcare providers taking on the responsibility for longer-term patient outcomes, and often trusted with a single patient’s care over many years, predictive analytics technologies are helping change and improve systems. Using predictive analytics tools, predictions can be made for particular patients, based on their individual information. This method doesn’t rely on the bell curve, and doesn’t have to group a range of patients for accuracy, and so predictions are more precisely suited to particular patients. Additionally, preventative medicine advanced with predictive analytics, impacting favorably on public health.
From wearable sensors to telemedicine applications to medical smartphone applications, the health sector has an influx of tech assistance. The talented, benevolent, and shrewd all have a role to play.
By Jennifer Klostermann