The application of IoT in Healthcare services is bringing the paradigm shift in terms of how this industry operates, the accuracy of diagnosis and quality of treatment. It is changing the model from ‘hospital-centric’ to ‘home-centric’, making medical attention more affordable to even the weaker section of the society. As per the reports from Markets & Markets, the IoT healthcare market will be 158 billion USD by 2022 growing at 30.8% CAGR. The drivers for this growth are advancements in artificial intelligence, increasing the reach of connected devices in healthcare and the rise in investments for the implementation of IoT healthcare solutions.
The IoT healthcare market, based on component, can be divided into three segments – systems & software, medical devices, services & technology. Out of all these, systems and software are expected to grow at the maximum rate. These components collaborate to create multiple applications of IoT in healthcare. One such stream is remote patient monitoring which is expected to reach 25.31 billion USD (source – Markets & Markets) market size by 2023. It is revolutionizing the healthcare industry by providing improved accessibility, accuracy, quality of treatment and support to patients.
Remote patient monitoring is gathering vital health data of patients outside of the medical setting using digital technologies and transmitting it to healthcare facilities for assessment. It provides the convenience of being treated by expert professionals continuously while being at home, with better accuracy. Some examples of data which can be monitored are weight, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, heart rate, electrocardiogram, and blood oxygen levels. Its use varies from monitoring SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in infants to memory loss in elderly people. It can be greatly useful for:
Broadly speaking, the entire RPM ecosystem is composed of:
1. RPM Service Provider – Company that offers quality and convenient healthcare services, manages the RPM platform and devices (sensors, wearables, and gateway)
2. Hardware Provider – Responsible for maintaining device inventory & delivery of medical device & tab at patient’s home
3. Network Provider – The operator who provides connectivity support to this infrastructure
4. RPM Solution Provider – Responsible for
a. Developing a mobile application for patients
b. Developing web application for coordinators and providers
c. Integrating these applications with IoT gateway
I. Care Coordinator – Monitor the patient associated device measurements & notifications and alert respective stakeholder during missed measurements. Don’t necessarily have a background in the medical field.
II. Care Provider – The doctors and nurses who raise a request to commission devices to patients. Responsible for monitoring the device measurements and take required measures.
III. Patient – A person who needs RPM. Holds a Tab & Medical Device, through which the person is monitored & notified based on the Actual recording.
To have a better understanding of this, let’s imagine a patient who is recently discharged from the hospital and needs monitoring for a few months. For this, patient subscribes to the RPM services of a healthcare institute for medical care at home. Following are the sequence of events that happens during patient’s discharge from hospital:
health records are sensitive information and therefore are protected by government regulations. One such regulatory act which must be complied by in RPM is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It defines the physical, network and process security measures pertaining to Protected Health Information (PHI). Also, all the devices used should be FDA Class I approved.
1. Improved access to medical care – Facilitating a digital connection between doctors/nurses and patients, RPM alleviates the issue of distances. It also paves way for more focused care by health practitioners.
2. Reduced healthcare cost – Since the patients don’t have to physically travel to hospital or clinic, RPM saves money on traveling for diagnosis, laboratory tests, prescription etc.
3. Enhanced quality – The data captured by the RPM devices are highly accurate. The accuracy of data, along with its quick transmission and precise analysis, improves the overall quality of healthcare services.
4. Early detection of diseases – Certain applications of RPM, like real-time trend analysis, helps in detecting any deterioration or deviation from normal trend in patient’s readings at the earliest possible. This significantly impacts preemptive/preventive precautionary treatment.
5. Flexible and custom medical programs – RPM pricing plans and medical plans can take multiple forms. Based on the patient needs, goals, finances and demography these can be customized.
By Avaiarasi S