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The Vital Role of IoT in Healthcare: Part I – Trends in Healthcare Wearables

There are ever-more means to gather patient-generated data (PGD) about patient health concerns. In a 2015 review of IoT trends in healthcare wearables, Deloitte noted that “in the United States, everyday behaviors lead to conditions that cause 40 percent of premature deaths.” Yet, PGD collected through IoT devices is much more reliable than self-reported data and thus can help improve health care, its personalization and even encourage behavior changes. In fact, the number of connected devices in the healthcare sector globally is expected to reach 1.2 billion by 2024 according to Machina Research.

Consider these examples of current patient-centric IoT solutions:

  • About half of American adults have one or more chronic health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wearables, monitors and implantable devices will continue to evolve to send more real-time data to doctors.
  • IoT technology is advancing diagnostic practices as advanced cognitive analytics and artificial intelligence “learn” to review MRIs or X-Rays to recognize hard to see and obscure conditions often missed by the human eye.
  • Parents can sleep easier with Teddy the Guardian around. The smart stuffed animal checks a baby’s heart rate, temperature and the oxygen saturation when it receives hugs.
  • Sensors in medication bottle lids help monitor and manage adherence to treatment protocols.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year approved an ingestible sensor – a pill containing a small electronic circuit, powered by the acids in the stomach. This contains a tiny transmitter, which relays information about a person’s diet to an external monitor, as well as reporting on the levels of any medications.
  • Wearable technology or motion sensors can monitor independent retirees living alone offer caregivers peace of mind that they will be notified of falls or if the retiree does not get up from bed.
  • Care-plan-specific mobile apps monitor patient actions, such as following their physical-therapy or wound-care plans to reduce readmission rates.

The IoT’s impact is broader, too, than this discussion suggests. Innovations in connected technology are also advancing healthcare administration and overall health-care practices with the entire sector growing to apply these innovations as a comprehensive connected solution. We’ll discuss more about IoT security challenges and solutions in part two.

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Case Study: IoT is redefining the customer experience. Nokia case study.

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