The development of telehealth in recent years has optimized operations in medicine by providing diverse medical services remotely. By reducing the need for transport, use of on-site facilities, and chances of cancellations or delays, telehealth has heightened efficiency for both patients and healthcare professionals.
Today, the growing incorporation of the Internet of Things (IoT) contributes to the further development of telehealth technologies. In fact, Future Market Insights predicts that the IoT in the global healthcare market will grow at an 18.0% year-over-year, rising from US$ 181.4 billion (€177.9 billion) in 2022 to US$ 952.3 billion (€934.1 billion) by 2023.
If you’re curious to see how IoT is incorporated into telehealth and what its benefits are, then read ahead.
Benefits of IoT in telehealth processes
IoT refers to physical devices that make use of technologies like sensors and processing abilities to collect data and facilitate its communication to other systems through the internet. Applied to telehealth, these devices can function as remote monitoring devices for patients, fitness and wellness trackers, and dose reminders for medications.
One of its largest benefits is increasing accessibility for patients, particularly for the elderly and disabled. Wheel’s article on how telehealth can help make healthcare more accessible points out that for seniors and mobility-impaired individuals, the time needed and stress encountered in getting to and from doctor appointments can discourage them from pursuing consistent treatments. IoT-enabled telehealth devices can lessen the frequency of trips to a medical institution by automating the monitoring process.
IoT can also lessen the strain on medical professionals, as telemedicine technology may allow healthcare providers to care for more patients. Project Hope notes that there will be a healthcare worker deficit of 80 million globally by 2030. This seriously compromises the ability to meet patient needs. But IoT in telehealth can shorten clinical visits, prevent emergency treatments through remote detection, and make patient data access more efficient. It also reduces the likelihood of transferring viruses like the seasonal flu or a cold, keeping both patients and providers healthier.
Uses of IoT in telehealth today
The uses of IoT in telehealth today primarily fall on remote patient monitoring. HealthTech reports that remote patient monitoring and the data collected through it can prevent admissions, yield better clinical outcomes, and empower patients to improve their health.
Patients and doctors can easily track their progress through the automated recording of patients’ vitals and fitness. As such, doctors can remotely monitor patients without needing them to come in. Patients, too, can better observe the follow-through. In addition to monitoring their vitals, their devices can serve as reminders for maintenance medicines.
This level of automation may be particularly useful for patients dealing with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, or hypertension. IoT-enabled remote patient monitoring can also be largely beneficial for home health patients, including those with chronic diseases or those who were recently discharged and need ongoing evaluation. They can also be used to monitor pregnant patients to detect any changes in maternal or fetal health.
The future of IoT in telehealth
There is reason to be optimistic about the future of IoT in telehealth, as it continues to face improvements to raise the efficiency of the healthcare system. A study from Griffith University found that the IoT in healthcare needs to face challenges such as the barriers to market adoption, confidence in terms of data security and privacy, interoperability, and control and ownership. To address these, the healthcare industry will have to rely on transforming healthcare policies to provide support, careful strategic planning, and transparency within healthcare organizations. But considering the overwhelming benefits of IoT in healthcare, the occurrence of these transformations is only a matter of time.
Even now, further technological innovations in the IoT — such as the incorporation of artificial intelligence or robotics — can yield unprecedented possibilities for telehealth and medicine. While the IoT remains relatively new, it only serves as a pathway for furthering efficiency in healthcare.