Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare

Internet of Things (IoT) is a revolution in computer technology and communication that aims to connect objects together through the Internet. IoT is an idea of a worldwide distributed network, that can be fit into any environment with the aim of collect object data and sending this information for storage and analysis through the internet to some other location. Internet of Things means things interact with the Internet by employing sensors, microcontrollers, and transceivers for empowering communication and is built with suitable protocol stacks which help them interacting with each other and communicating with the users, thus becoming the constitutive part of the Internet. Nowadays, the Internet is impacting several aspects of the potential user’s everyday life. IoT is a highly dynamic distributed network composed of a very large number of objects. Human beings supply most of the contents and information found on the Internet so far, whereas in IoT, small objects transfer information. Healthcare is one of the most attractive areas of IoT, which is the main focus of this article. Healthcare systems use a set of interconnected devices to create an IoT network devoted to healthcare assessment, including monitoring patients and automatically detecting situations where medical help is required.

Internet of things is quite different from the common Internet in the communication aspect. For us, the normal that communication could be established at any time and from everywhere, however, the Internet of Things has an additional dimension – “anything”. So, the concept of IoT has some characteristics that demonstrate multi-dimensional comprehensiveness, information sharing, and intelligent processing:

  • Interconnected. Internet of things facilitates people to devices and devices to other devices.
  • Smart sensing. The majority of devices and actuators have embedded or connected sensors to detect current conditions.
  • Intelligence. IoT devices have some calculating units and software used for smart decisions, predictions, and automation control.
  • Energetical efficiency. All IoT devices have to be efficient and able to use recyclable energy, boost their own energy harvesting if the application of the device requires and allows it.
  • Expressing (or data sharing). IoT-connected devices have the capability to express and share their current state with all other connected devices. It allows better communication flow between users and machines.
  • Safety. Internet of Things devices should help ensure the safety of individual life. All medical smart devices are a good example of this characteristic.

Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare

IoT healthcare technology is set to revolutionize the healthcare industry in the next decade, as it has great potential and multiple potential applications, from remote monitoring to medical integration. IoT-based healthcare systems play an important role in the development of healthcare information systems. The dependency of healthcare on IoT is increasing day by day to enhance access to care, strengthen the quality of care and finally reduce the cost of care, An better healthcare system should deal with real-time health monitoring, early detection of critical health condition and should provide home-based care instead of costly clinical care.

IoT ensures the personalization of healthcare services by maintaining digital identity for each patient. Due to non availability of ready to access healthcare systems, many health problems have been getting undetected in conventional healthcare systems. But pervasive, non-invasive, powerful IoT based systems have been helpful in monitoring and analyzing the patient data easily. In IoT based healthcare, various distributed devices gather, analyze and pass real time medical information to the cloud, thus making it possible to collect, store and analyze the big data streams in several new forms and activate context dependent alarms. Smart healthcare play an important role in healthcare applications through connecting bio-sensors and actuators to patient. IoT is utilized by clinical care to examine health statuses of patient through collecting bio-sensors data and analyzing patient heath information and afterward sending analyzed health data to laboratory centers to perform appropriate actions. For example, Masimo Radical-7 monitor the patient‘s status remotely and reports that to a clinical staff.

IoT can be used to supplement patient treatment through remote monitoring and communication, and to keep track of patients as they move through a healthcare facility. Hospitalized patients whose physiological status requires close consideration can be always observed utilizing IoT-driven, noninvasive checking. This sort of arrangement employs sensors to gather far reaching physiological data and utilizations passages and the cloud to break down and store the data and after that send the dissected information remotely to parental figures for encourage investigation and survey. It replaces the process of having a health professional come by at regular intervals to check the patient‘s vital signs, instead providing a continuous automated flow of information. In this way, it simultaneously improves the quality of care through constant attention and lowers the cost of care by eliminating the need for a caregiver to actively engage in data collection and analysis. There are people all over the world whose health may suffer because they don‘t have ready access to effective health monitoring. But small, powerful wireless solutions connected through the IoT are now making it possible for monitoring to come to these patients instead of vice-versa. These solutions can be used to securely capture patient health data from a variety of sensors, apply complex algorithms to analyze the data and then share it through wireless connectivity with medical professionals who can make appropriate health recommendations. Smart sensors, which combine a sensor and a microcontroller, make it possible to harness the power of the IoT for healthcare by accurately measuring, monitoring and analyzing a variety of health status indicators. These can include basic vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure, as well as levels of glucose or oxygen saturation in the blood. Smart sensors can even be incorporated into pill bottles and connected to the network to indicate whether a patient has taken a scheduled dose of medication. The main purpose behind the IoT based healthcare system is to provide better healthcare services to all the people anywhere and at any time in the world. This should be done in a more patient friendly and economic manner. So for increasing the patient care efficiency, there’s a necessity to enhance the patient health monitoring devices. The utilization of IoT has also given a positive impulsion to healthcare analytics. With connected devices in the application, healthcare specialists can get access to a huge amount of health data, this helps in analyzing healthcare trends and also in measure the consequences of the particular drugs.

IoT Healthcare Networks

The IoT healthcare Network (IoThNet) is one of the essential element of the IoT in healthcare. It provide access to the IoT backbone, facilitates the transmission and gathering of health data, and enables the use of healthcare communications.

Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare

The IoThNet topology refers to the arrangement of different elements of an IoT healthcare network and indicates representative scenarios of seamless healthcare environments describes how a heterogeneous computing grid collects enormous amounts of vital signs and sensor data such as blood pressure (BP), body temperature, electrocardiograms (ECG), and oxygen saturation and forms a typical IoThNet topology. The IoThNet architecture refers to an outline for the specification of the IoThNet’s physical elements, their functional organization, and its working principles and techniques. The IoThNet platform refers to both the network platform model and the computing platform. This shows a systematic hierarchical model of how caregivers or agents can access various databases from the application layer with the help of a support layer.

Benefits of IoT in Healthcare

Here are the benefits of IoT for healthcare;

  • Better patient engagement:IoT healthcare helping to healthcare sector for moving from fee based service to value-based care; effective patient engagement plays a key role in the implementation of value-based care program. Applications of IoT helps patients to access their own health data, Through this way patient can be sure about progress in health and impact of care management on his health.
  • Real-time data for care managers:The arrival of IoT in healthcare, care managers can get access real time health data of patients. There are many health application which are integrated with wearable sensors such as apple watch and other health applications. These applications sends real-time health data of patients to the cloud server , from cloud server care managers can get access to the patients real-time health data, These real-time health data helps care mangers to implement better care management program that helps patient in critical conditions.
  • Reduced healthcare cost:Availability of real-time health data given solution of superior remote monitoring of patients. Healthcare application can not only take better take care of their patients remotely but it also helps in reducing overall healthcare cost and patient do not require to present physically and discuss particular case , so IoT also helps to reduce cost of healthcare.
  • The increased interest level of patients:Educated patient population is more interested in IoT healthcare applications, these people are not only understand importance of better health but also take part in health care management program.
  • Healthcare analytics:The healthcare system generating large amount of data through connected devices IoT also given supportive impulsion to healthcare analytics, Doctors and care managers can get access to large amount of data or Electronic Health Records (EHR). EHR helps to measuring effect of particular drug on patient health.
  • Meaningful and timely health alerts:Using healthcare applications care managers can sends alert to patient, which helps patients in critical health condition, through accessing real-time health data of patient, care managers can monitor patient health condition and whenever a particular health parameters goes beyond threshold value then care manager can send alert immediately. This can save lives of patient in critical condition.
  • Helping differently able people:There are different types of disabled people, who are physically disabled, mentally disabled, sensory disabled and pervasive disabled. IoT healthcare application helps differently abled people to improve their lifestyle to some extend as normal people do. Now we have IoT enabled wheelchairs, eye glasses, hearing devices etc. which are helping many needy people.
  • Better chronic care management:One of the most important aspects of chronic care management is continuously health checkup and health evaluation of chronic disease patient. IoT has provided this feature through remote patient monitoring, this helps doctor to access real-time data of chronic disease patient and makes doctor more confident about remote patient monitoring and can also monitor accurate health parameters from a remote location.
  • Enhanced Drugs & Medication Management:Nowadays IoT helping to enhancing drugs and medication management as well .We have smart wireless pill bottles that track the medications and auto fill pill bottles when needed, this IoT based medication management product also providing better analytics of chronic care for patients.
  • Reduced Scope forError: IoT has given impulsion to the efforts of reducing medical errors. Using IoT we can integrate accurate medical data, analytic and automation based decision making system, this unique integration is more precise than ever. Thus IoT improving quality scores and healthcare is moving towards eliminating scope of errors.

Security Challenges

In July 2014 HP released a study, revealing that 70% of most commonly used IoT devices contain vulnerabilities or easy to cyber attack. The number of connected devices increasing exponentially, this increase in IoT devices promises benefits to customers, It also leads to some security threats like: software vulnerabilities, denial of service, cross site scripting and weak password In reality private information of patients collected through remote monitoring system means to ensure security and privacy of patient health data there is a need for strategies and mechanisms. Some security requirements listed below.

  • Data authentication: According to principle, retrieved information and addresses must be authenticated.
  • Resilience to attacks: The system should not have any single point of failure and in case of failure it should adjust itself to node failures.
  • Client privacy: Only the information provider should able to use from observing the use of system.
  • Access control: System administrator must be able to implement access control on user information.

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