IoT in healthcare: Use cases and real-world examples
Discover how IoT in healthcare transforms the industry with five real-world use cases and examples from top organizations.
By Pete Christianson
The Internet of Things (IoT) can take industries across the board to another level, and healthcare is no exception.
IoT healthcare solutions enable medical professionals to provide better patient care and create more efficient workflows for themselves. From remote patient monitoring to automated medication management, IoT has many possibilities in healthcare.
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In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common use cases for IoT in healthcare (sometimes called the Internet of Medical Things, or IoMT) and highlight actual companies that leverage these technologies to drive success.
Why use IoT in healthcare?
IoT technology enables a new wave of game-changing applications and services that will change the face of healthcare as we know it. Here are a few of the most common benefits healthcare organizations (and patients) see:
Enhanced preventative medicine
An aging population and the recent pandemic have strained already stretched provider systems. Globally, there’s a growing demand for healthcare providers to offer more personalized and preventative forms of patient care.
Connected medical devices and wearables collect far more information about a patient’s health than ever. Data is collected in real time and can be shared with caregivers and patients to provide a more complete and accurate picture of a patient’s overall health.
Organizations can use data and predictive analytics to inform proactive treatment plans that prevent health problems. Preventative planning significantly reduces the burden on overtaxed healthcare systems by keeping everyone healthier.
Better medication adherence
Medication non-adherence places an incredible burden on healthcare systems around the world. In the U.S. alone, it results in around 125,000 preventable deaths annually, contributing approximately $500 billion in added costs to the healthcare system each year.
Remote patient monitoring, telehealth, smart medication dispensers, and automated communications can reduce medication non-adherence drastically. Reducing non-adherence results in fewer preventable deaths, fewer avoidable hospitalizations and ER visits, and lower costs for patients and providers.
Improved resource utilization and cost reduction
Through smart asset tracking and management and medical equipment monitoring, healthcare organizations can deliver better patient experiences while reducing costs. Some benefits include:
Better asset tracking and utilization More accurate machine forecasting and maintenance Workflow optimization and faster response times Enhanced patient experience
The benefits of IoT technology in healthcare are tangible. However, organizations should take care when implementing any IoT solution. Security of patient data and seamless integrations should always be top of mind.
Later, we’ll discuss what you need to know before integrating IoT into your healthcare organization and how to choose the right IoT solution provider. But for now, let’s dive into use cases and real-world examples of IoT in healthcare.
Remote patient monitoring
One of the most compelling use cases for IoT in healthcare is remote patient monitoring. Remote monitoring solutions enable more efficient and effective care by connecting patients with healthcare providers in real time. Some examples of remote patient monitoring include:
Wearable devices that track vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels Smart pill bottles that remind patients when to take their medication and track compliance Connected inhalers that track medication usage and send alerts to providers when a patient needs a refill or is overusing their inhaler
Examples of healthcare organizations using IoT for remote patient monitoring
Lifeline (formerly Philips Lifeline) is a personal emergency response system that allows seniors to live independently while still having access to help when needed. The system includes a wearable pendant that detects falls and other emergencies and a base station that connects to a 24/7 response center. With remote monitoring, Lifeline can provide peace of mind to seniors and their families while reducing the burden on healthcare providers.
ResMed is a medical equipment company specializing in sleep apnea devices. One of its products, the AirSense 10 AutoSet, is an IoT-enabled device with remote monitoring capabilities. With the AirSense 10, patients can track their sleep data and receive personalized feedback from their healthcare providers. This data and feedback help patients improve their sleep quality and enable providers to identify potential issues before they become serious.
IoT enables patients to receive medical care from anywhere, using telemedicine solutions that connect patients with providers remotely. Telemedicine is particularly valuable in remote areas or other situations where patients can’t visit their providers in person. Telemedicine also frees up office staff and allows providers to interact with more patients in a given day. Some examples of telemedicine include:
- Video conferencing platforms that allow patients to consult with providers from home
- Connected medical devices that enable remote monitoring and diagnosis
- Using chatbots and automated SMS to provide patients with basic medical advice and support
An example of a healthcare organization using IoT for telemedicine
Teladoc Health offers a range of telemedicine solutions, including video consultations with doctors and mental health professionals. Teladoc’s connected medical devices allow providers to remotely monitor patients with chronic conditions, which improves patient outcomes and reduces costs.
Asset tracking and management
Another area where IoT significantly impacts healthcare is asset tracking and management. Healthcare organizations can use connected devices to monitor equipment and supplies to reduce waste, improve efficiency, and save money. Some examples of asset tracking and management include:
- RFID tags on medical supplies and equipment that allow providers to locate items and manage inventory quickly
- Sensors on hospital beds that monitor usage and maintenance needs, reducing downtime and increasing patient safety
- Smart refrigerators that monitor temperature and inventory levels of vaccines, medications, and other medical supplies
Examples of healthcare organizations using IoT for asset tracking and management
HCA Healthcare is an extensive hospital system operating over 2,000 healthcare facilities across the United States. HCA implemented a system that uses RFID tags to track medical equipment and supplies to improve its asset tracking and management capabilities. This system allows HCA to track its inventory better, reduce waste, and ensure that the right equipment is always available when needed.
St. Joseph's Healthcare System is a New Jersey-based hospital system that has implemented an IoT solution to track the location of patients and staff within their facilities. Using a combination of Bluetooth beacons and mobile apps, St. Joseph's can track the movement of people and assets in real time. Accurate movement tracking helps the hospital system improve patient flow, reduce wait times, and optimize staffing levels.
By using IoT sensors to monitor equipment, healthcare providers can predict when maintenance is needed, improving efficiency and lowering costs. Some examples of predictive maintenance include:
- Sensors that monitor the condition of medical equipment such as MRI machines, alerting providers when maintenance is needed
- Smart buildings that monitor temperature and humidity levels, reducing the risk of equipment failure and downtime
- Real-time tracking of equipment usage, allowing providers to schedule maintenance during low-usage periods
An example of an organization using IoT for predictive maintenance
GE Healthcare uses IoT sensors to monitor the condition of medical equipment in hospitals and clinics, reducing downtime and costs. GE can help organizations predict when maintenance is needed by analyzing sensor data, allowing providers to schedule maintenance during low-usage periods.
Finally, IoT is also used to create smart hospitals—healthcare facilities equipped with the latest connected technologies to provide the best possible care.
An example of a healthcare organization using IoT to run a smart hospital
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is a large hospital system based in Los Angeles that has implemented several IoT technologies to create a smart hospital. For example, it uses connected devices to monitor patient vital signs and alert healthcare providers when changes require attention. It also uses a smart bed system that automatically adjusts to the patient’s needs, reducing the risk of bedsores and other complications.
Getting started with IoT in healthcare
IoT is transforming healthcare in various ways, from remote patient monitoring to asset tracking and management. By leveraging this technology, healthcare providers can improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and deliver more personalized care. As IoT continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovation in the healthcare industry.
If your healthcare organization is thinking about implementing IoT, here are three questions you should ask your potential IoT connectivity provider:
1. Can you support private LTE networks?
Security is the primary barrier to IoT adoption across industries, and healthcare is no exception. For healthcare organizations dealing with sensitive patient data, safeguarding that data is paramount. According to Syniverse, 86% of enterprises using IoT report that security concerns have delayed or constrained their IoT deployments. And 50% cite security as their biggest challenge to successful IoT implementation.
Private LTE networks can effectively address these security concerns, bypassing the inherent risks of the public internet with secure private connections. Because it decreases the risk of data breaches, private LTE networks are the smart choice for healthcare organizations that want to implement IoT with enhanced end-to-end security.
2. Do you offer network redundancy and control?
Today's organizations expect wireless coverage across hundreds of carriers with automatic carrier switching as standard. Automatic switching gives you network redundancy and seamless mobility, removing the complexities of managing hundreds of carriers.
One challenge for healthcare organizations is that some cellular network providers use automatic carrier switching to reduce their own costs, choosing low-cost networks at the expense of quality. Therefore, it’s essential to ask your provider whether you can control the networks and your IoT SIM preferences and whether your team can update preferences in real time via over-the-air updates.
3. Can I configure and manage SIM cards via API?
Your IoT connectivity provider should reduce the complexity of integration so your developers can focus on building a robust user experience. To ensure a seamless integration experience, providers should offer:
- An easy-to-use portal to order, configure, and track IoT SIM activity in real time.
- Detailed data for granular insight into SIM usage and behavior.
- Full programmatic configurability via API.
Telnyx has you covered: we built a private, global network with multi-cloud architecture to provide peace-of-mind redundancy. Our Mission Control Portal makes it simple to configure and manage your SIM cards via API.To learn more about how Telnyx can help your healthcare organization implement IoT solutions via our healthcare API with enterprise-level security, get in touch with one of our experts today.