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What is IoT and how does it apply to healthcare?

IoT is known as the internet of things. Simply put, it is the ability to connect numerous devices to send data to each other through the internet. Quite often cloud technology is coupled closely with IoT technology because both require internet access. Examples of this are our smart phones and smart watches. Through the concept of IoT, our smart phones can connect to our home security systems, cars, and kitchen appliances. Imagine preparing a meal from your phone while driving home from work.

Hospital staff are overwhelmed with patient monitoring devices: pulse oximeters, CPAP’s, ventilators, infusion pumps, ECG machines and the list goes on. Each device is important on its own and signals changes in the patients status. The combination of patient data from the various machines can provide a much more rich and accurate story about the patient’s condition. IoT connectivity can centralise this data, the data can then be interpreted and communicated to all healthcare providers through smart technology.

The move towards smart technology solves many outstanding health care issues such as alarm fatigue, training, communication via scraps of paper, robust clinical trials, and more complete evidence based guidelines.

There are still adoption challenges for IoT systems in health care. Healthcare systems are risk adverse, there is a selection preference towards proven systems instead of new innovative technology. Healthcare systems also lack cloud and internet based IT and procurement protocols. Finally, value based financial reimbursement models are still in its infancy in healthcare, as such these IoT systems may result in better outcomes but funding models towards IoT may be hard for hospital executives to justify.

The future of healthcare is through innovation. The upcoming generation of health care visionaries is certain to overcome these challenges and lead the way to a connected health care system.

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