Healthcare and the IoT: A match made in the cloud - Pinnacle
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Healthcare and the IoT: A match made in the cloud

The Internet of Things is helping to connect every corner of our world. From the internet-connected juicer and your home’s thermostat to the sensor in your car that allows you to unlock it remotely, sensor-enabled technologies are becoming a staple of consumers’ lives. However, even more important is the impact the IoT has on the healthcare industry. According to a report published by MarketsandMarkets, the IoT in the healthcare vertical is projected to be worth $163.24 billion by 2020, growing at a compound annual rate of 38.1 percent from 2015 on.

Health trackers and diabetes monitors are just the beginning of the IoT in the healthcare space. In March 2016, CB Insights compiled a list of 64 IoT startups that were targeting the healthcare space, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The IoT is set to transform the healthcare industry, and companies are lining up to add to the conversation, all with the end goal of improving patient outcomes.

The IoT is made possible by the cloud, and organizations that have adopted cloud computing in order to improve hospital processes are already benefiting from the confluence of both of these important technologies. Let’s take a look at some examples of the IoT and the cloud at work in healthcare:

Useful applications in the cloud 

Electronic healthcare background as vector illustration in a digitized hospital

Healthcare apps come in various forms. Some allow patients to schedule appointments without having to call the doctor’s office and deal with long hold times, and others provide doctors with the ability to keep track of prescription inventories and make sure they have the right medicines on hand. Nursing students can also use their smartphones on the hospital floor to look up various bits of information in order to provide the best care possible.

In addition, connecting healthcare systems to the cloud could boost analytics and decrease debilitating downtime, according to TechTarget contributor and medical professional Rasu Shrethsa, M.D. Therefore, cloud-based desktop and web applications are proving essential to IT strategies in these hospital environments. In a healthcare setting, downtime can be deadly, so connecting organizations to the cloud is worth it in the long run.

Mobile applications can be used by doctors and nurses on the hospital floor.

Smart beds

One innovation in the hospital that is doing good for patients is the smart bed. According to Healthcare Facilities Today, smart beds are helping to improve patient safety and comfort throughout their stay in the hospital. Basically, the bed senses when a patient is present and can adjust itself to provide the proper support. In addition, this technology is helping nurses prevent patients from falling out of the beds when they try to get up.

“Falls in particular are a point of concern,” the Healthcare Facilities Today article stated. “Smart beds use a sensor, placed under the mattress, to help prevent patient falls. Rather than just letting nurses know when a patient is getting out of bed, the technology also creates reports of patient movement that nurses can look at for patterns.”

Home patient care

The IoT allows doctors and patients to be connected, no matter where they are. Case in point is the evolution of home care technologies that bring doctors closer to their patients and allow them to make sure these individuals are getting the care they need even when they’re not at the doctor’s office.

“[S]ome patients don’t take their medication in appropriate doses or at the correct times,” Business Insider contributor Andrew Meola wrote. “Smart medication dispensers in the home could automatically upload information to the cloud and alert doctors when patients don’t take their medicine. More broadly, this type of technology could let doctors know of any potentially dangerous patient behavior.”

“Discreet monitoring technologies can alert caregivers to potential problems.”

IBM Watson

Any conversation about technology within the healthcare space would be incomplete without mention of IBM Watson. The tech giant’s supercomputer has been a player in the healthcare field since 2013, and leaders in the industry have been using it for numerous activities. For instance, earlier in the summer, IBM announced that it had formed a Watson Health medical imaging collaborative made up of more than 15 partners. The goal of the collaborative was to use cognitive imaging to help doctors address cancers, diseases and other health conditions.

How does Watson Health fit into the IoT? According to OxGadgets contributor Sami Mughal, IBM Watson is partnering with Nokia to make in-home care easier and more responsive, especially for the elderly. Discreet monitoring technologies can alert caregivers to potential problems for these individuals, including abnormal vital signs or sudden changes in daily routine. In addition, voice-activated technologies could help someone call an ambulance or remind them to take their medicines.

This is by far only some of the many uses for the IoT in the healthcare field. For more information about how the IoT is transforming healthcare and how IBM solutions are making waves in the industry, get in touch with the experts at Pinnacle Business Systems today.