Americans spend $30.2 billion out of pocket annually on unconventional health approaches, according to NCHS. The willingness to invest in complementary health options is good news for both the retail market (wearables, etc.) and healthcare organizations willing to innovate with new procedures and technologies. Many of these innovations will rely on the Internet of Things (IoT) for data tracking, alerts, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and more.
Here are just a few IoT-enabled innovations that can dramatically impact healthcare:
The next wave of health-based wearables
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, consumers put most of their trust in doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies when it comes to the referral of wearable technology. Considering how many consumers already rely on these devices to monitor their activity and sleep, this presents a massive opportunity for the industry. After all, the wearables market grew 29% last year with 101.9 million units sold, according to IDC.
Emerging wearables in healthcare include:
- Fever-tracking patches for the skin, alerting doctors or caregivers of patient temperature spikes
- Bluetooth-enabled smart gloves to help stroke victims regain mobility
- VR glasses enabling medical students to experience high-sensory training, observation and testing
- Bracelets monitoring a woman’s fertility, predicting fertility dates within her cycle
Air quality sensors
The work of air quality scientists is now being widely recognized thanks to IoT-based technology. Air quality index sensors now have the ability to compile aggregate environmental data on a single dashboard, which can automatically alert the likes of doctors, asthmatics, city officials and the general public. Sensors can also apply to more accurate severe weather alerts.
Surely the most controversial solution on this list, subdermal implants have been used or concepted for multiple purposes. Some data scientists and healthcare professionals are now advocating mini, pacemaker-like implants to be inserted in areas such as the tissue between the thumb and pointer finger. The IoT-based technology would automatically alert doctors and patients of vital signs and other health concerns. Since we’re now accepting the fact that Wi-Fi signals pass through our bodies 24 hours a day, such implants may not be as taboo as originally perceived.
Imagine diabetics never having to prick their fingers again—or even carry the burden of injecting themselves with insulin. Implantable insulin devices, acting as artificial pancreases, represent an exciting step in medicine. Patients purportedly are administered the exact dosage required, without mistakes. As glucose levels rise, the device releases the insulin from a gel barrier. The price of this procedure could make sense for the patient, considering the American Diabetes Association estimates the cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion.
Mitigate clinical aggression
Mental health facilities can now forecast patient aggression with predictive analytics and machine learning software. A clinical aggression solution captures a variety of dynamic factors, including unstructured clinical notes and patient data. The software then supports mitigation and treatment protocols to be assigned to at-risk patients, which empowers mental health professionals to make insightful decisions—predictively. The IoT-based technology, which grows “smarter” by learning from each piece of data, can decrease ensuing litigation, support evidence-based protocols and foster restraint-free care. If mental health facilities can prove and demonstrate greater care with this technology (compared to traditional facilities), it would give them an industry edge.
Want more IoT talk? View the smart city infographic.
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