Have you ever imagined an automated insulin delivery pump/ injector which injects insulin as soon as the body demands it? And a depression fighting watch app which continuously assesses the cognitive functions of an individual? Well these devices are already available and being sold in the market, all because of Internet of Health Things (IoHT).
Internet of Health things is the computation concept of customer consumption of medical things by means of connecting the medical devices and applications with internet. The web-enabled devices collect and process the data from environment using embedded sensors and processors to further communicate and transmit the same data to required users, in this case the patient’s family members and doctors. All this is done with none or least human intervention. But the data being transmitted can be accessed by humans and they can even tweak the process wherever they want to. Due to the involvement of data mining and transmitting over internet, there are definitely some privacy and security issues which arise. But the technology leaders have found ways to keep this data safe till now.
Implementing IoHT in healthcare environment presents tonnes of advantages over the traditional way of handling healthcare services. Remote healthcare monitoring is one of the advantages of using IoHT. It assists the homecare services, clinicians and hospitals to get real time health vital updates on the patients. The remote monitoring also increases patient’s comfort, reduces costs and decreases the chances of hospital infection. The remote monitoring requires devices like user interface devices (smartphones, tablets and computers), sensors for data collection purpose and obviously, internet connectivity. For these devices to perform, one needs integration with IoT, mobile computing and cloud storage, and a data communication infrastructure. There are various types of sensors which can monitor different vitals like glucose, heart rate, humidity, patient pasture, blood pressure, brain activity and many more. The stage 1 in the typical process map of how IoHT works is data collection from sensors. These sensors come easily and can also be embedded with smartphones in the form of a mobile application. Then this collected data is sent to cloud for remote access by healthcare providers.
IoHT also assists to improve Ambient Assisted Living (AAL), a service which supports elderly care or incapacited patient or children care. Apart from providing a safer environment for adults, AAL also helps the elderly people to gain autonomy in a phase of dependency and led to a more active life for them. AAL service is widely known to be used for elderly Alzheimer’s patients. A fall detection system is also included in most of the AAL services for adults which triggers an alert in case of a fall and injuries. The same services also generate real time data about the patient motion like walking, sleeping, sitting or standing up, lying down etc. in case of mentally ill patients which helps the healthcare providers to monitor and analyse which medicine is affecting them how. Drug compliance is one more advantage of AAL which makes sure that the patient does not miss any medicine dosage to ensure continuous care and recovery.
Apart from the patient care, there is one vital advantage of using IoHT. One can also take preventive measures to avoid any future illnesses by continuously monitoring their health vitals. This can be made possible by the wearables. Wearables are basically the devices which can be attached to the body in the form of watches, bands, shoes or body sensors. These devices are widely available in market and some well-known brands are already competing to improve the technology day by day. Moreover, apart from the health benefits, these devices are welcomed by people as they are also aligned with the modern fashion industry trends. In USA, 15% of the healthcare consumers use wearable devices like smart watches, and fitness devices. One of the surveys predicted that by the end of 2018, 110 million wearable devices will be sold.
It is clear that Healthcare is one of the fastest industries to grab the opportunity in the form of Internet of Things and hence creating an IoHT focused healthcare system. The future of IoHT is clearly visible from one of the respected survey results which said that the IoHT market will be worth $170 billion till year 2020.