IoT is one of the most interesting technologies of the era, all set to cross the 11 trillion USD mark by 2025. It has the potential to disrupt businesses, eliminate operational inefficiencies, automate workflows, and obtain maximum cost savings. That being said, IoT is also one of the trickiest technologies to implement. It requires end-to-end integration with the existing ecosystem, which in the presence of outmoded legacy systems, becomes difficult. In the healthcare industry especially, with so many regulatory compliances and huge EHR and EMR records, migrating to newer systems compatible with IoT can be really difficult. In this post, we’ll uncover all these aspects of IoT healthcare app development and how you can overcome the pre-mentioned challenges.
- The global market of IoT is expected to become worth over 11 trillion USD mark by 2025.
- In the healthcare industry, IoT is used for real-time health monitoring of patients.
- IoT, or the Internet of Medical Things, can increase the effectiveness of treatment while improving patient convenience.
- IoT solutions in healthcare can also be used for medical supply management and predictive maintenance of clinical machinery.
Table of Contents
Internet of Things in Healthcare and its Benefits
In simplest terms, IoT, or the Internet of Things, is nothing but a network of smart devices. These devices could be a smart fridge, an espresso machine, video surveillance cameras, smart sensors, and even autonomous vehicles. These devices or hardware are connected over the internet, hence the name, and are able to communicate bilaterally.
This real-time communication allows IoT devices to automate multiple operations. For example, leverage IoT development services to integrate the clinic diagnostics report generator with the clinic’s admin portal. This will facilitate real-time updates to patients’ EHR records instantaneously. Similarly, a healthcare wearable can be connected to registered practitioners’ pagers to alert them whenever there’s an emergency case with a designated patient.
As such, IoT healthcare services can save lives in many cases and, in a broader spectrum, complete processes in mere minutes, which otherwise would have taken hours, if not days. There are multiple other benefits of IoT in healthcare, and major ones among them are discussed below-
1. Increased patients’ comfort
Patients are no longer required to collect their reports from diagnostics centers or to even visit doctors on a regular basis. By simply wearing healthcare wearables, they can send real-time updates about their vitals to their practitioners and primary caretaker to avoid unnecessary visits to the hospitals.
2. Reducing waiting time
Through custom IoT healthcare app development solutions hospitals can help maintain real-time records and updates across systems. This enables patients and nurses, and caretakers to know the current ER and OR occupancy in a given hospital and arrange their schedule accordingly. This will help reduce avoidable crowd surges in clinics, helping medical staff function efficiently.
3. Real-time tracking
By allowing wearable diagnostics like smartwatches and brain swelling sensors, otherwise known as IoT or Internet of Medical Things, to communicate with each other and caretaker applications, IoT enables real-time monitoring of patients’ vitals. This can help prevent potentially fatal incidents.
4. Ceaseless vitals monitoring
Wearable health devices collect data all the time. While they are programmed to trigger alerts only when an anomaly is detected beyond the set threshold, they don’t stop collecting data at any time. This data can then be processed regularly to identify patterns and help in the timely identification of potential threats to health.
5. Inventory and asset management
Another important and generic use case of IoT healthcare app development, coupled with Machine Learning is predictive maintenance and inventory tracking. Both these applications can work similarly well with medical machinery like MRI and CAT scanners. Medical supplies, too, can be managed on a proactive basis by implementing sensors on the shelves.
Also Read: IoT in Healthcare: Top 6 Use Cases
How Do IoT Healthcare Solutions Work?
An IoT healthcare solution is generally a network of smart sensors and devices communicating with each other and a central server through radio waves on the internet. Most of these devices are built to capture patients’ data, the remainder for asset maintenance, supplies management, and surveillance detection. The former kind captures patient information like CGM, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, etc. With the help of this information, triggers can be sent to caretakers, doctors, and patients to take better care of themselves or arrange for a visit if required.
Other than these triggers, IoT devices also keep on collecting the passive data and then storing this information on the cloud. This helps practitioners understand patients’ health and condition better to help with faster recovery. The devices IoT healthcare solutions used for the purpose include-
These are among the most common wearables that can also easily be integrated with medical applications. Smartwatches like FitBit, AmazFit, Apple Watch, etc., monitor wearers’ heart parameters like blood pressure and pulse, sugar levels, temperatures, etc. These devices are also capable of detecting seizures and sending alerts to the responsible people. Such devices are also being used to help in speech treatments.
2. Asthma sensor
The asthma sensor is a special device that can be connected to the top of an asthma pump. It can capture data like how frequently a patient is using the pump and when. This helps doctors in assessing the patient’s condition better and adjust future prescriptions accordingly. They can also analyze the effectiveness of various medications more accurately, making treatment more effective and convenient.
3.ECG monitoring device
Another wearable device that helps capture a more detailed view of a patient’s health. These devices are built to capture ECG data like pulse, blood oxygen level, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. The device can also be used to capture other vitals like blood sugar levels. These devices can detect anomalies like sudden weight gain etc. This helps patients regularly monitor their vitals, eliminating the need for regular clinic visits.
4. CGM machines
CGMs, or Continuous Glucose Monitoring devices, are smart IoMT for diabetes patients. They monitor the blood glucose levels of patients at regular intervals without interrupting their daily life. This data is then sent to the dedicated healthcare mobile app. The app can then alert the patient if they are in need of a dose of insulin pen. The passive data collected by the app and the device can also help the endocrinologist to prescribe and give diet-related instructions better.
5. Brain swelling sensors
These are more advanced forms of medical IoT devices that neurosurgeons implant within the cranium (the part of the skull that encompasses the brain) to detect whether there are any injuries to the brain or any fatal swelling. The device measures the pressure on different parts of the brain to analyze the brain’s condition. The sensors are built with a special material that automatically disintegrates and causes no harm to the patient or interferes with any medical procedure.
6. Smart video pills
These are tiny pills that can be orally swallowed by patients. These pills, once ingested, can capture their entire travel through the intestinal tract. This data, thus captured, is sent in real-time to another wearable device, allowing low-frequency communication between the devices. Later this data can be visually analyzed by physicians through an integrated healthcare app development solution. They can then assess the condition of the entire gastrointestinal tract and colon. This way, they can detect injuries or any anomaly without an invasive procedure.
How to Begin IoT Healthcare App Development
As mentioned above, IoT healthcare app development is not as easy as the development of any medical mobile application. While the rest of other medical apps have to deal with integration and regulatory compliances, none of them are required to enable end-to-end connectivity and manage the continuous stream of data. This is why when it comes to the development of IoT healthcare apps, a sophisticated approach is required, as discussed below-
1. Understand the Target Audience
Since an IoT healthcare solution is built for end-to-end connectivity, more often than not, these applications are meant for two different kinds of audiences. Here primary user remains the patients, the secondary user being the caretakers or doctors. This is why it is highly important to identify and understand the target audience before you even begin the IoT healthcare app development procedure.
That being said, it would be really difficult to understand all the expectations of your target audience. You will have to create a feedback loop in the development cycle to ensure that in each sprint, you’re adding more details to the app as per the requirements of the users.
2. Proof of Concept
Once you’ve researched everything about your target audience, their expectations, and requirement, you’d be in a better position to finalize all the pre-development requirements and share the same with your IoT healthcare service provider. This would include detailing the specifications, the feature, functionality, wireframing, and the entire ecosystem plan; I.e., which device would communicate with which device, how they will communicate, whether there will be noise cancellation in the data transmission or data will be collected passively, etc.
All these decisions would involve major cost investment; this is why it is important to understand your target audience and make arrangements only for the information that is actually required. This is the stage of feasibility testing and laying the foundation of the actual IoT healthcare app development.
With your pre-development proof of concept ready, you can finally start the allocation of resources and begin the development phase. IoT app development is different from the traditional app development process. It requires a completely different stack of technology and integration at numerous tiers. Some of the more important tools that you must have a good understanding of for IoT healthcare app development include- Azure IoT Suite, AWS, IBM Watson, Kea, and Oracle IoT.
All these various platforms come with their own set of features, functionalities, pros, and cons. You must decide based on your requirements which is the ideal solution for you. Other than these platforms, you will need technologies for data streaming, storage, and analytical tools. You would also need experts in software and app development and networking to bring all of the different components on the same page to ensure interoperability and seamless communication over the internet.
4. Quality Assurance
Since there are so many constituents in an IoT healthcare application, continual testing is indispensable. You must ensure that your IoT healthcare service provider understands all the regulations and facilitate data sharing in a compliant way. Other than compliance testing, all the components must be taken into unit testing to ensure they’re functioning seamlessly within the network.
It is also important that the devices are able to communicate with the central server and not depend on the device relaying the information. Failure of one device must not disrupt the entire network. Moreover, there must be enough failure-proof configurations in place to ensure the backup of important data and ceaseless processing.
5. Deployment and Integration
Once the process of IoT healthcare app development and testing is completed, the devices and IoT healthcare apps can be implemented in real-life use cases. This deployment must be done under complete observation to facilitate seamless connectivity between devices and a ceaseless flow of data. Furthermore, enough integration must be in place to ensure that all the data thus collected reaches the observability and visualization tool in real-time.
Thus integrated, the network can be said to be in a completely functioning state. It is then only will the IoT healthcare app development process can be said to be completed.
IoT is drastically transforming the healthcare industry for improved efficiency and effectiveness. Whether it is micro and essential IoT solutions like video pills or macro solutions for medical equipment predictive maintenance, IoT healthcare services are far-extensive and are capable of disrupting medical operations intensively. Indeed, investing in IoT right now is one of the key steps a healthcare organization can take to stand itself apart in the market.
Moreover, the quality and effectiveness of IoT-powered treatment are bound to earn medical institutes considerable goodwill from the general public. Therefore, if you’re looking for an IoT app development company for your healthcare services, know now is the most accurate time to start investing. If you’re yet unsure of how all things will unfold for your project, it’s better to take IoT development consultancy beforehand. Matellio, with its decade’s worth of experience in the healthcare niche and unparalleled expertise in IoT, is surely the right place to get all your questions answered. All you need to do is fill out this form and book a free consultation.
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