Thus far, most IoT initiatives in healthcare revolved around the improvement of care as such with remote monitoring and telemonitoring as main applications. A second area where many initiatives exist is tracking, monitoring and maintenance of assets, using IoT and RFID. This is done on the level of medical devices and healthcare assets, the people level and the non-medical asset level (e.g. hospital building assets).
However, these deployments and use cases are just the beginning and, at the same time, are far from omnipresent. More advanced and integrated approaches within the scope of the digital transformation of healthcare are starting to be used with regards to health data aspects where IoT plays an increasing role, as it does in specific applications such as smart pills, smart home care, personal healthcare, robotics and Real-Time Health Systems (RTHS).
Towards a more integrated and mature IoT-enabled eHealth reality
Within the overall connected healthcare and eHealth picture, more integrated approaches and benefits are sought with a role for the so-called Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) or Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). The period from 2017 until 2022 will be important in this transition, with several changes before 2020.
From 2017 until 2022, growth in IoT healthcare applications is indeed poised to accelerate as the Internet of Things is a key component in the digital transformation of the healthcare industry and various stakeholders are stepping up their efforts.
The vast landscape of healthcare stakeholders and IoT possibilities
We once started listing all the applications, examples and use cases regarding the usage of the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare. We had to stop.
The reason: healthcare is such a vast ecosystem and once you also start including personal healthcare, the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare insurance, RTHS, healthcare building facilities, robotics, biosensors, smart beds, smart pills, anything remote and the various healthcare specializations, activities and even (treatments of) diseases, that list of Internet of Things applications in healthcare quickly becomes endless.
Remote health monitoring and telehealth
As mentioned, remote health monitoring for now is the major IoT use case in the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT). In other words: today’s major use case from an IoT spending perspective is outside the setting of a hospital or other healthcare facility.
There is a general shift of care in hospitals or emergency care environments to private environments such as the patient’s home, whenever that becomes possible.