How the 'Internet of Things' Is Revolutionizing the Healthcare Industry

by Jaimy Ford

Technology has been transforming the healthcare industry for decades, simplifying everything from how doctors diagnose illnesses to how hospitals track patient records. Now, the "Internet of Things" (IoT) is rushing in a new era for the industry.

The IoT refers to physical devices that connect to the Internet and download or upload data -- data that can be used to provide better care for patients and reduce healthcare costs. When doctors have accurate information in real time, they can better diagnose problems and offer preventative care that can save lives.

In fact, San Murugesan, director of BRITE Professional Services, adjunct professor at the University of Western Sydney and editor-in-chief of the IEEE IT Professional, says: "IoT technology is poised to significantly transform healthcare -- major transformation is already underway. Judicious use of IoT in healthcare can improve current healthcare practices and operations, drive new efficiencies, reduce healthcare costs and facilitate innovative new solutions, resulting in better healthcare services and improved patient experience. It will also improve the access to care for people in remote locations and at home as monitoring systems can provide a continuous stream of data for better decisions by healthcare providers."

Here are a few key ways IoT can change healthcare for good:

Encourage Healthy Living

Specifically in the United States, obesity is a serious problem. Doctors can ask their patients to work out, but once their patients leave, they have no way of knowing if exercise is taking place. However, wearable device innovations could monitor and report physical activity back to the doctor, as well as remind patients that it is time to exercise. Fitbit, for example, tracks wearer's active minutes, including the steps they have taken, distance they moved and stairs they climbed. And the PolarLoop Fitness Band monitors wearer's daily activity 24/7, capturing information like calories burned, steps taken and even sleep. For both gadgets, that information then continuously syncs to the person's computer and smartphone. Doctors can gain real-time access to a patient's progress.

Monitor Hospital Patients More Effectively

Devices like the Masimo Radical-7® monitor patients, noninvasively collecting data on total hemoglobin, oxygen content and saturation, pulse and respiration rate, and more. It wirelessly transfers that data to doctors, who receive a complete status update of a patient's vitals and condition anytime, anywhere. That information is invaluable for doctors caring for fragile patients, and those being prepped for operation.

Manage Chronic Conditions

Patients could wear armbands that check vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse, red blood cell counts, and glucose and cholesterol levels. In addition, some devices could track patients' response to therapy or drugs. Other innovative technology is in the works that will monitor when a patient takes his or her pills. That information could then be sent to doctors, allowing them to monitor patients and take preventative action -- well before patients end up in the emergency room. The Home Health Hub Reference Platform, for example, enables the collection and sharing of physiological information, capturing patient data from a variety of sensors and securely storing that data in the cloud, where healthcare professionals can access it.

Provide Better Care to Seniors

It's no secret that the population is aging, and IoT technology could keep our elderly living independently at home for longer. IoT can be used to track an elderly patient's vital signs and activities at home, reporting when they eat and take their medicine. Some could even send an alarm if they fall and alert emergency responders. With Lively, for example, family members place sensors on objects within the home and those sensors "learn" a senior's routine for taking medications, eating, going outside and more. That data is then transferred to a website where family -- or doctors -- can access it. It also sends an alarm to those people if something out of the ordinary happens with the elderly patient's routine.

Cut Down on Infectious Diseases

According to HyGreen, 1.7 million patients are infected by healthcare-associated infections each year.

HyGreen is an electronic hand-hygiene monitoring system that records all hand-hygiene events in the hospital and reminds hospital workers to wash their hands. The system detects when someone is washing their hands, and logs the worker's ID number, time and location in a central database, and a second device recognizes workers by flashing green if they washed their hands, or reminds them to wash their hands if they did not. Such systems can reduce the transmission of diseases, keeping patients and staff healthier and preventing costly lawsuits caused by staff negligence.

IoT is changing the way we live, work and play -- and the technology has huge, positive implications for the healthcare industry. Small businesses are popping up everywhere to cater to this growing need, and there is explosive potential for entrepreneurs who tap into the market.


Jaimy Ford is a professional business writer with nearly a decade's worth of experience developing newsletters, blogs, e-letters, training tools and webinars for business professionals. She contributes to both The Intuit Small Business Blog and She also serves as editor-in-chief of Sales Mastery, a digital magazine written specifically for sales professionals

Article: Copyright © Studio One.

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