The Internet of Things is Changing Healthcare
February 5, 2016

Ah the Internet of Things, the technology growing in both interest and demand. Who doesn’t want a garage that knows you’re coming and opens automatically when you pull up? You’re used to your dog leaping at your homecoming, but your garage? Cool.

The smart garage is a common Internet of Things (IoT) example, but the excitement around this technology reaches well beyond enhancing residential conveniences. Entire industries are turning their mighty heads, percolating with ideas around the possibilities IoT could make into realities. The healthcare industry specifically is one with vast room for improvement, and it’s exciting to see the changes that are now happening.

Smart Hospital Beds

Remote controlled hospital beds have been contouring comfort for years, but these hospital beds go well beyond making Seinfeld reruns easier to watch. Smart beds have the ability to monitor a patient’s vital signs like heart rate and breathing rate, which can trigger an alert to hospital staff if something’s not right. These smart beds can also be triggered to adjust the patient’s position. For example, if a sleeping patient’s blood pressure drops, a monitor can communicate this to the bed, which in response adjusts up or down until the patient stabilizes.

Professor and Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Hampshire, John LaCourse, has invented programs that can permit fast, automatic responses from the beds that can be especially valuable while a patient sleeps and isn’t directly monitored. “Procedures such as retinal surgery require exact blood pressure levels as part of the healing process,” LaCourse explained. “A smart hospital bed would periodically adjust itself to maintain these levels for patients.”

Patient Monitoring

Hospital stays are pricey for everyone involved; the healthcare facility, insurance agency, and the patient who would prefer spending time being well. With the average daily cost of an inpatient totalling over $1,800 per day, there is motivation to get the patient out of bed. With remote monitoring technologies, patients are given greater flexibility to stay in their homes while still under the close monitor of healthcare professionals. BodyGuardian Sensor products provide remote monitoring systems with these capabilities, giving medical staff the flexibility to move patients into their homes.

Location Tracking

Monitoring patients is one way the Internet of Things is becoming critically helpful in healthcare. Meanwhile, streamlining communications between hospitals and hospital staff is another. Location tracking deployed inside buildings can be widely used for real-time triage, mapping the most qualified doctor in the nearest location at the time of emergency. This not only maximizes efficiency and optimizes resources, but ensures the the most critical cases receive the immediate attention they need by the most qualified doctor in the area.

An especially attractive feature is that IoT in healthcare may offer ways for hospitals to lower operating costs in order to remain competitive. Furthermore, the Internet of Things can improve a patient’s journey through a medical event with increasing options in procedures and monitoring techniques.

As IoT increases in ubiquity, Internet of Things healthcare apps can increase their efficiency and availability. In no industry do seconds matter as much as in medicine, and IoT healthcare apps are the next generation of technology poised to save lives.

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