All sorts of businesses in many different industries have tapped into the power of IoT devices during the past half-decade. In the healthcare sector, such devices are geared toward augmented reality, remote monitoring, and smart sensors to provide biometric insights with important data and context to healthcare providers. This technology makes healthcare more efficient, accurate and helpful for patients plagued by all sorts of maladies. Those with chronic conditions are especially grateful for telehealth technology, because it provides a sense of ease in managing their conditions. Let’s look at some of the ways that IoT is applied in healthcare.

Augmented Reality

Photo doctor using AR technology.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are quickly reaching a mainstream tipping point. These technologies are spreading to classrooms, gyms and healthcare facilities across the globe. Healthcare AR is new, yet it is providing all sorts of benefits for consumers as well as healthcare providers. As an example, this technology is helping patients overcome anxiety about upcoming procedures and treatments. This technology also is helping doctors perfect procedures, enhance patients’ quality of life and treat the sick and elderly in the most efficient manner possible.

AR for Physicians

AR is empowering physicians in several ways. For one, healthcare AR provides doctors and nurses with data and helpful information without forcing them to detach from their current project. AR instructs practitioners on the nuances of administering treatment, performing surgeries and beyond. This is done in real-time in a completely seamless manner. In fact, AR has even entered the medical classroom. This technology lets students interact with a 3D image of the body to better understand biological functionality and the way procedures should be performed.

AR Technology is Empowering Patients

AR is enhancing education for physicians as well as patients. This technology lets pharmaceutical companies boost patient education through a visualization of products and surgeries. This is the patient engagement healthcare providers have long coveted. From providing a visual portrayal of the doctor’s office to explaining the nuances of an upcoming surgery, AR is helping patients understand the intricacies of treatment. For example, one company used it to show patients how heat wraps could relieve their pain. It also was employed as a tool to pinpoint the best treatment options for ameliorating specific aches and pains.

How AR Technology Improves Healthcare Sales

One of the primary advantages of AR is to display highly complex concepts in a clear and efficient manner. Drug and healthcare providers face stiff competition. Even the slightest competitive advantage can make the difference between fantastic quarterly results and a struggling business. AR has empowered physicians to show off the merits of new drugs in a clear and impactful manner. This technology provides 3D portrayals of specific body organs to show exactly how certain drugs and procedures can enhance health. One company has used augmented reality technology to put a breakthrough treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture on display. Those struggling with this ailment found the company’s AR presentation quite captivating. Those who work in healthcare were empowered to scan the page to observe the condition’s effects in three dimensions. The high-tech presentation also made it easier for healthcare professionals to understand exactly how the treatment works, understand the cost savings it provides and learn about other treatment nuances that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

Tech Advances are Making Life Easier for Physicians and Patients

For all the good provided by healthcare AR, it is important to note the technology is in its infancy. Give this technology a few years and it will be commonplace across medical classrooms, hospitals and other treatment facilities. The result of this tech advancement will be a higher quality of life for patients as well as doctors. Stay tuned — a slew of new advancements fueled by AR are poised to emerge and dramatically alter society for the better in the years to come.

Smart Sensors

Sensors detect chemical, physical and biological signals in all types of industries. In healthcare, sensors provide care directly to patients who need assistance. Sensors provide the vision necessary for reading, sorting, tabulating information and even guiding robots. Here is a closer look at how smart sensors will alter the healthcare IoT landscape.

Sensors Will Change Healthcare as We Know It

The average American is often so busy that he or she forgets to take care of their own personal health. Technology such as smart sensors can prove quite helpful if used in the proper manner. These sensors analyze patient activity to the point that a heart attack can be predicted prior to the actual pain. As an example, sensors create analytics that alert doctors when assistance or treatment is necessary. There is no longer a reason to wait until an unfortunate medical event occurs! Sensors display the initial signs of everything from stroke to kidney failure, heart failure and beyond. In fact, biosensors are now used to identify cancer at the earliest possible point in time.

Sensors Even Help Manage Chronic Conditions

Minuscule high-resolution sensors empower doctors and patients to manage chronic conditions in real time. Such conditions range from diabetes to heart disease, multiple sclerosis and more. Signals from multiple sensors provide real-time recommendations for those in need of assistance.

The Automation of Smart Medical Devices

Sensors are used to automate smart medical devices. In order to satisfy patients in real time, several smart devices are used to generate information and combine sensor data and data analytics. This data provides timely and effective medication.

Neural Tech is the Wave of the Future

Intelligent neural sensors have the potential to help patients manage an array of conditions. These sensors are invaluable to patients who want to manage conditions ranging from Parkinson’s disease to rheumatoid arthritis and for those dealing with paralysis.

Different Types of Sensors Used in the Context of Medicine

 Photo of doctor using an IoT device to monitor their patient's health.

Today’s patients take an active role in gathering and reviewing reports. Our tech-centric world has several wireless communication standards that allow for the sensors to generate from conventional forms. As an example, the passive form does not mandate patient participation. Traditional forms require such participation. Several passive sensors are used to constantly monitor patient vital signs, store the information and, subsequently, share it wirelessly with healthcare providers. The combination of sensor data and analytics allows for the generation of reports that describe the patient’s health. The type of sensor deployed hinges on the requirement in question. For example, sensors for blood sampling such as glucose meters are proving quite helpful to patients and medical care providers around the world. Digital watches, fitness gauges and other wearables are embedded or worn on clothing and accessories. Epidermal sensors ranging from patches to digital tattoos are going mainstream. It is even possible for sensors to be embedded in tissues such as defibrillators and pacemakers.

Sensors Will Ultimately Make Healthcare That Much More Effective

Smart sensors will soon make healthcare that much easier for patients as well as physicians, nurses and others in the medical industry. These sensors are reliable, efficient, easy to design and provide a flexible system that permits scalability. Though these sensors require calibration management through an external processor and prove somewhat complex to manage, this technology will soon be perfected to the point that sensors will be seemingly ubiquitous.

Telehealth Technology

Photo doctor using telehealth technology

Care continuity is one of the top challenges for patients plagued by chronic illnesses and doctors looking to improve patient health. Guaranteeing care continuity boosts health, reduces hospital stay frequencies and makes life that much better for all parties. Telehealth technology speeds up the entire process, simplifies care and ultimately enhances treatment efficacy and information accuracy.

The Merits of Telehealth

Telehealth empowers doctors and other medical personnel to review patient history with ease. The information provided by this technology is accurate and complete. Though providing comprehensive data might not seem like a major achievement, it matters a great deal to patients and doctors tasked with the challenge of chronic conditions. Care continuity is of particular importance for those who live in remote locations where nurses and doctors tend to have a comparably high turnover rate.

All in all, chronic illnesses spur about three-quarters of all visits to the doctor’s office. About 90% of prescriptions and 80% of hospital admissions result from chronic illnesses. These figures will only continue to increase. Though such conditions can be managed, the process proves that much simpler when care is provided without interruption. Telehealth technology enhances care continuity in myriad ways. This technology improves triage results to gauge whether an emerging symptom is connected to the chronic illness or another malady. Furthermore, this technology decreases the cost of making such a determination. A patient monitoring his or her own health will be more inclined to adhere to the healthcare providers’ directives once telehealth is in use.

Telehealth’s Role in Preventing the Emergence of Chronic Illnesses

Aside from assisting patients who are already plagued by chronic illnesses, telehealth’s continuity of care assists in the prevent these conditions. This consolidation of information provided by doctors provides the primary healthcare provider with an easy way to determine overall health and pick up on red flags or other key data that otherwise would have been missed. This heightened awareness is especially important for elderly adults who face a higher risk for serious illnesses. Telehealth provides a comprehensive understanding of patient health and medical history, so healthcare employees can work with patients to implement the best possible preventive actions.

Chronic illnesses can quickly become a healthcare crisis. Today, nearly half of all Americans (approximately 133 million individuals) have a form of chronic illness. This figure is expected to grow even more overtime. Telehealth is one of the many potential solutions for the management and prevention of chronic illnesses. Those who hop on board with telehealth technologies now will ultimately improve patient health, especially when chronic illnesses inevitably arise in the months and years to come.

Telehealth’s Continuity Saves Lives

Telehealth technology ultimately makes healthcare easier and more effective for all relevant parties. Patients and doctors alike are crediting this technology for improving well-being and extending the lifespan of patients. It will not be long until telehealth is the norm for patients and medical providers across the world.

Applications of IoT Technologies in Healthcare

IoT solutions used in homes and communities designed for senior citizens will improve both the quality of life and care provided. IoT allows for data to be transmitted in real-time to an analytics dashboard used by physicians and nurses. These medical professionals rely on the dashboard to instantaneously monitor the status of senior citizens in real-time. Consider an instance in which a senior citizen falls and cannot get up. If he or she was wearing an IoT monitoring device, it would transmit an alert during the fall. Devices can even send an alert if the senior citizen wanders beyond his or her home or community. IoT devices can monitor and notify caretakers if the senior’s daily routine is significantly altered so assistance is provided in a timely manner.

Emergency Responders

IoT has turned those basic personal responders of yesteryear into incredibly intelligent devices. Modern responders can pinpoint and even alert relatives to abnormal behavior patterns in the senior’s protected living space. Responders have even advanced to the point that they can provide navigational assistance to patients with Alzheimer’s, so they can return home without harm. Remote monitoring powered by IoT also enables caregivers to visually monitor their relatives from afar.

IoT is Fueling Portable Diagnostics

Technology has advanced to the point of developing portable machines so small that they can be stored quite easily in a senior’s home. This medical equipment can conduct vital urine and blood tests. IoT allows for the secure and efficient storage, processing and transmission of the patient information to the senior’s caretakers in an instantaneous manner.

IoT has the Potential to Transform Senior Care

If you had the ability to travel a few years into the future, you would likely find a clear majority of senior citizens relying on IoT technology. From wearable devices to portable diagnostics, smart homes, and beyond, tech advances will make life that much more safe and enjoyable for the elderly.