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Internet of things in healthcare: A boon or a bane?
Dr. Saarthak Bakshi | Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The healthcare industry is losing its track and is in great grief and desolation. With increasing profits and costs, the medical expenditure is burning a hole in the pockets of many. Likewise, the people are struggling and battling to support their medical expenses.

The medications of today’s times are supplemented to lower the death rate along with zero productivity level of the person. The increased dependency of such population is vulnerable to numerous chronic diseases and threats and this is where the alarming need of the Internet of Things (IoT) arises.

Healthcare being a vast domain invites IoT to abundant applications from distant monitoring, smart sensors and medical device integration. It is capable of keeping patients healthy, secure and also keeps a check on engagement and productivity of the doctors.

How does IoT in healthcare work?
The trend of technologically driven healthcare system is now here. The health and technology scrapers and developers have created a new ways of accumulating, assembling and reporting individual medical condition of the patient to the respective doctor. The IoT seeks to be a very favourable and budding drift and shift in the healthcare industry.

The automated internet connected devices, including wearables, skin sensors, and mobile health applications enable the connect patients and their assistance providers to communicate their health condition in an unbelievable way. This eases and increases the convenience of nurses, doctors, patients and their families as this empowers everybody assisting the patient to keep a check on his/her health record.

Each coin has two sides therefore, internet of things also carries numerous drawbacks and failures along with its success stories. It is very important to keep its boons and banes in mind.

Why is there a mounting need of IoT in healthcare?
The intensified deception and subversion: The IoT necessitates its requirements in the healthcare system as the increased inflation has amplified the need of the doctors and those in power, making it to be a system of referrals and giving birth to unnecessary corruption. The internet of things shall eliminate such undesirable malpractices and shall eliminate the plight of the ailing.

Dearth of proficient and affordable doctors: Paucity of competent, experienced and inexpensive doctors is devastating and the condition in the rural areas is even worse due to unavailability of resources by the people. This shortfall has been endangering numerous lives, every year. The increasing deficit of efficient doctors should be effectuated for the harmonious development of the country.

Inefficient public healthcare system: The government has been ineffectual and incompetent to support and maintain proper healthcare system. It lacks proper resources, efficiency and manpower to institute a strong platform of healthcare system in our country. The government fails to promote and provide the necessary amenities and falls back to aid the ailing people of the nation. The emergence of IoT shall uplift and ease the conveniences of the patients and their families.

Inability to afford technological advancements: The country lags behind and is still learning to treat more ailments. The icing on the cake is the fact is the unaffordable cost of the treatments. The improvements and the progression in the technology make it even more expensive and beyond the reach and paying capacity of many. This makes three-fourth of our population devoid of basic facilities.

Unequal distribution of resources: The existing and contrasting polarities in the country are the root causes to many hurdles that our country is undergoing. The uneven spread of financial resources increases the ever widening gap eventually giving rise to unscrupulous and unethical practices of corruption. This in turn leads to infecting the poor and increase their misery. Thus, with coming of IoT, this inequality shall be treated and a standard treatment shall be provided for all.

We, as a country really hope and long for changes and improvising on the healthcare sector. In a poverty stricken country like ours, there is an urging need for such substantial deviations. The poor, too deserve proper care, nourishment and good health.   

Aiding the medical facilities
The simultaneous reporting and monitoring regularly keeps a check on heart failure, diabetes, asthma attacks, etc. as the real-time monitoring of the condition in connected devices to the smartphones collect the required health data and immediately transfers the collected information to the doctor.

Thus, the right diagnosis of the ailment through this technology can lessen the need for hospitalization and shift routines of medical checks from a hospital centred to the patient’s home. This shall further reduce the hassle and money spent by the people as it improves connectivity and affordability.

IoT also aids assistance even at the remotest of areas and analyses data at the time of emergencies as the alerts are a vital function of this system and immediately drops of notification to the linked devices.

By using this technology the data collected, slashes the waste and reducing the cost of systems and diminishing mistakes especially the errors raised out of human intervention.

Adding to these benefits, the electronic healthcare records (EHR) enable sending and transferring of information directly to the labs and nurses from various medical devices.

The Hospital Information Management System (HIMS) shall help this immense and traditional method of hospitalisation that includes billing, to go paperless. The HIMS will also cater to improving the eminence of outcomes of the treatment through virtual infrastructures.

Challenges along the way
On the other end, the healthcare IoT also has several obstacles in its path as the multiple connected devices and the huge amount of data they collect can be a challenge for hospital manpower and technology to manage. There is also the question of how to keep all of that data secure, especially if it is being exchanged with other devices.

The exposure of the data into the numerous devices can result to it cybercrimes and robbery of such confidential data. The IoT devices have an enormous patient’s data and could invite unwanted botheration for the doctors and the patients. Handling such an extensive data is strenuous and demanding, at the same time.

Only through the medium of encryption, such vital data can be safeguarded and protected, efficiently. Along with this, IoT devices should be configured and organised to prevent data storage and its protection.

Healthcare IoT shall enhance the patient engagement and satisfaction by allowing patients to spend more time interacting with their doctors but also has immeasurable and incalculable number of threats attached to it.

The evaluation before its emergence is requisite and must be measured effectively because its benefit should be reaped by the maximum population of this country. With escalation and advent of internet of things there is an illumination of faith and hope that things will surely change for better in our country.

(The author is CEO at International Fertility Centre)

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