The evolution of IoT and AI in Healthcare

According to recent reports, the global IoT In Healthcare market size is expected to grow to USD 188.0 billion by 2024. In the near term, healthcare CIOs are working to identify and successfully implement these solutions in their organizations. As we emerge from the pandemic in 2021, we expect adoption numbers to continue to grow as IoT demonstrates how it reduces the burden on healthcare workers and improves their safety.

There are several areas of healthcare in which IoT development healthcare applications will play a crucial role moving forward. Let’s look at how IoT enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help the healthcare industry accelerate patient care.

 

Wearable devices

The biggest application of IoT in healthcare is in wearable devices that help collect vital signs and health status from patients. IoT also keeps patient data catalogued and updated so it’s easy for providers to make decisions using a 360-degree view of their patient data in the cloud. Here are some common use cases:

 

Patient data

Taking readings of patient vital signs, including temperature, heartbeat, blood pressure, pulse oxygen levels, and blood sugar numbers is essential to delivering proper diagnoses and care. Interacting face-to-face with infected patients significantly increases the increases the chance of transmission for healthcare workers.

To reduce risk, infection, and spread of illness, IoT-enabled wearable devices can measure all vitals remotely on a predetermined schedule. Sensors on the device will collect the data and send it to the IoT gateway wirelessly, where it’s collected and stored in the cloud. The device also analyzes data and alerts the nursing station if it finds that a patient needs urgent attention.

 

Occupancy control

Maintaining social distancing in areas where people may congregate, like patient wards, laboratories, and pharmacies is a major concern. Occupancy control using wearable devices with geo tracking sends data about device current locations and sends alerts when the number of people/devices exceed an area’s pre-defined limit, making it easy for administrators to clear congested areas and restore safe social distancing.

 

Mass screening and contact tracing

Wearable devices with IoT sensors also help to analyze conditions of groups and regions. Mass temperature and contact tracing data can be measured within a targeted population and analyzed and stored in the cloud.

These devices periodically measure body temperature, and AI uses a Machine Learning (ML) algorithm to analyze it and provide statistics to health authorities, enabling them to contact associates of an infected person to help stem the spread of disease.

 

Other use cases

  • Social distancing awareness – Bluetooth-enabled connected devices can sense when other devices are less than 6 feet away, and vibrate or beep to alert users that a potentially contagious person is too close
  • Quarantine alerts – Geo-location tracking functionality in wearable devices can alert local authorities when a user travels to a new location and should quarantine for a prescribed period—and if that person breaks quarantine prematurely
  • Transmission behaviors – Researchers have found that the coronavirus enters in the human body from nose, mouth, or eyes, and with the help of proximity sensors, AI can detect movements and notify users if they inadvertently touch their face, nose, or eyes

 

Telemedicine and remote diagnostic

During the pandemic, it’s been challenging to visit a doctor’s office or hospital for regular check-ups and medical treatment. Telemedicine and remote diagnostic capabilities enable patients and providers to avoid risk, offering virtual appointments using video, voice, text, and digital data exchange. With the help of embedded high-definition cameras, portable IoT devices capture virtual appointment data and send it to the provider to help them diagnose illness, develop care plans, issue prescriptions, and dispense medications remotely.

 

Robotics and automation

Robotics and automation can be utilized throughout a hospital environment, from delivering medication to performing complex surgeries. A robotic cart can distribute medicine, food, and other essentials to patients, reducing the need for close contact. Robotics and automation also improve the efficiency of medical staff, enabling them to provide more and better patient care while delegating repetitive and administrative tasks to robots. Robotic assistants can also gather patient information and enter it automatically in their Electronic Health Record (EHR), eliminating the need for (and human error of) manual data entry.

Augmented and virtual reality technologies can perform complex surgeries remotely with high precision. Due to lockdowns and unavailability of transportation, medical experts are often not able to travel to provide specialized procedures. One example is the Da Vinci surgical system from Intuitive Surgical, which has opened the door for complex robotic surgery that is controlled by the surgeon at a console. Another example is Microbot, which uses IoT sensors to diagnose infection inside the body.

Connected smart air purifiers in healthcare settings, which are managed remotely through dashboards and mobile applications, alert staff when the air quality index drops below a certain level, and clean the air to maintain optimum quality. Auto disinfectants with robots can be used to sanitize hospital areas, operating rooms, and infected patient rooms, reducing the need for human intervention and reducing the spread of the virus.

 

Drones

During the pandemic, drones have become popular for tasks such as spraying disinfectants, remote monitoring of the contaminated zones, and contactless delivery. In the post-pandemic, drones will become useful for sanitiz
ing outer hospital areas and large compounds, and delivering medications in contaminated zones, reducing the burden on medical staff. Drones also accelerate the supply chain for medical essentials such as blood, vaccines, and emergency injections.

Remote monitoring of contaminated areas is easily and safely done with drones, using AI-enabled cameras to identify and report any anomalies in an area. With a connected camera, drones help first responders by clearing traffic along their route to an emergency.

 

Getting started with AI and IoT

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, do business, and obtain medical care. With everyone prioritizing hygiene and safety, the healthcare industry is in the hotseat to quickly adapt facilities and infrastructure to respond to risk and accommodate patient needs.

Using connected devices with AI and IoT-fueled technologies, healthcare practitioners and facilities can elevate safety, improve care, and reduce stress on workers.

At Pegasus One, we help our healthcare clients expand their technology landscape with product engineering services for AI, IoT, and VR/AR technologies, and all of our solutions are built from the ground up with HIPAA standards in mind. For more information, contact us for a free consultation.

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