IoT in Healthcare Applications
For those modern hospitals, the need for state-of-the-art software and hardware to operate is present, considering all those electronic devices, prone to countless risks ranging from power outages to system failures, can be a matter of life and death in certain cases of patients. And with the application of IoT devices in medicine instead of waiting for a device to fail, the system can take a proactive approach, virtually monitoring medical hardware and alerting hospital staff if there is a problem, processing alarms in realtime, allowing configuration performance rules and connections, and has low energy consumption .
As an efficient system in this sense, it is capable of continuously monitoring, in realtime, multiparameters such as temperature, door opening, consumption of medical gases, the pressure of the medical gas network, humidity, positive pressure, critical environment, and industrial machinery, among many other parameters; sending alerts when measurements are detected above or below the defined parameters; and sending automated compliance reports on scheduled time slices. What guarantees the protection of valuable assets is seen as IoT in healthcare .
In the same sense as the application of intelligent sensors, which is an IoT application in health, systems with IoT devices can remotely monitor the temperature remote control of vaccine refrigerators in clinics and health facilities, placed inside a refrigeration unit that sends data informing about the current temperature, providing access to real-time usage measurements so that public health professionals can more safely administer injections for diseases and save lives .
Just like barcode systems, or through a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone camera, or RFID (radio frequency identification) tags that have batteries, active transmitters, and integrated electronics to capture and relay information and transmit data real-time medical diagnostics for doctors and other health professionals, which are health IoT applications, it enables public health situations, including infectious diseases, to be managed more effectively. In the same context of smart tags, an IoT application in health, through the application of IoT devices in medicine added to distribution mechanisms, allows physicians to maintain an accurate trajectory of medications and monitor whether patients are following their treatment plan correctly .
One of the main advantages of using IoT in medicine is the continuous monitoring of the patient, considering that there will be increased access to information on the patient’s clinical condition, as well as more data to obtain a more accurate diagnosis, consequently, the possibility of offering personalized treatment. Since using IoT devices in medicine, it is possible to help in the treatment of chronic diseases through the combination of technology, data analysis, and mobile connectivity. Still because monitoring these data in realtime means saving time for health professionals and sharing information, such as diagnostic imaging exams, such as X-rays, since capable digital devices can be used of generating the exam data digitally, that is, IoT in Healthcare, is another significant benefit of using IoT in medicine .
Also, in the context of patient monitoring, considering the use of tools for mobile devices and the Web (health IoT applications), medical assistance, as well as through health professionals, is allowed to check treatment trends and respond more effectively to the data collected by these devices. The application of IoT technology in medicine can be done through a cloud platform connected wirelessly to various therapeutic devices in drugs, performing this activity in patients with chronic diseases, such as the case of the effectiveness of Parkinson’s drugs and making necessary dosage adjustments in real time, where the collected data are transmitted to doctors by a wireless network, which, in turn, analyzes the patient’s progress and the responsiveness to medication .
Since it is currently common to carry out an “episodic assessment” of patients with Parkinson’s, that is, he goes to the clinic where he is subjected to tests that will assess the progress of the disease, even considering that the patient’s performance will be different in comparison with your home environment and daily routine. And by performing this type of monitoring in the home environment, with the use of IoT in medicine, these patients will benefit from a more assertive treatment. The monitoring of a hospital bed through IoT sensors (health IoT applications) facilitates the continuous monitoring of vital signs data as well as the ability to monitor the patient’s condition via cloud web platforms. With this, the doctor can perform a much more assertive treatment based on the patient’s specific symptoms .
Another applicability of the technology are cardiac pacemakers that use IoT technology, where it is implanted in the patient, providing information at all times on the patient’s cardiovascular system (health IoT applications),monitoring the patient’s condition in realtime, and with that, any change or risk to their health is minimized by using much faster and more precise intervention. In modern home environments, IoT can be applied to a mattress with an application that detects the environment and sleep (health IoT applications), analyzing the data collected concerning breathing, heart rate, snoring, sleep environment, and temperature and sending the information directly to a smartphone or computer to improve the quality of ideal sleep. This data help to determine the best course of action for a better rest experience [36,38].
Still analyzing the application of IoT for health in the internal environment of homes, the technology may have resources aimed at helping babies sleep more and safely, including “cradle swing” and a cry sensor that automatically adjusts sound and movement (health IoT applications),preventing it from rolling, providing better quality sleep for babies, it also improves the quality of sleep for parents who may suffer from zinc deficiency due to sleepless nights. In addition to collecting information featuring a daily sleep record, it provides alerts on mobile devices and different settings to adjust according to the baby’s age and sensitivity [36,38].
In a medication control context, IoT can be applied through a platform for doctors and healthcare professionals to maintain communication with patients and ensure that they keep track of medication dosage and frequency (health IoT applications),which in many cases through the use of sensors in a smart pill bottle with the medication that is used and issues reminders, which can be through text or smartphone of missed doses, or even to ensure that patients remember to take their prescriptions. This facilitates personalized support for medication refills, which eliminates the time and travel expenses, especially in distant locations, and reduces hospital costs and health problems as well as bringing real help to patients. IoT technology in medicine facilitates frequent monitoring of patients through monitored data, offering more specific treatments and transparency of compliance. This technology helps chronic patients to have a better quality of life, avoiding forgetting the doses of medication and reducing recurrent hospitalization due to the disease .
Analyzing a context of the application of IoT in the human body, an IEM (ingest- ible event marker) sensor device can be used which is an ingestible sensor the size of a sand grain, ingesting the sensor along with prescribed medication, generally used together with pills containing microscopic sensors that can send a signal to an external device, usually an adhesive used on the body, to ensure proper dosage and use, and with permission, a way for others to also see the collected information, which is activated in digestion, that is, a health IoT application .
In the technological context, using an IoT device in medicine it is possible to measure blood sugar levels through the tear fluid. Another health IoT application is the device consisting of a flexible metal coil covered with a layer of the hydrogel. Inside the hydrogel, there is an enzyme called glucose oxidase, which is the same used in blood sugar tests. And in the presence of glucose, this enzyme produces an electrical signal that is picked up by a nanosensor in the metal coil. Acting as a glucose monitor, it promises to accurately measure the sugar levels of patients with diabetes .
The technological scenario of IoT in health concerning pacemaker, IEM sensor, or the device applied to contact lenses is considered as digital medicine, which brings a new digital therapy that will advance the understanding of how patients are taking their medicines. This information along with the information that a dose of a certain digital medicine has been taken will integrate to give a broader view of how patients are functioning in the real world .
The IoT in the context of medicine can perform bed monitoring in hospitals, through a shared and unified system with IoT sensors and devices through the hospital, process bed requests at a time, and perform other parameters such as tracking the proximity of the nursing team. This technological approach to connecting and tracking hospital beds results in prior and accurate knowledge when a bed has been released and where it is located, reducing waiting times in emergency rooms or even patients in the hospital’s emergency room. This type of technology can be useful in pandemic cases, such as those currently plaguing the world,COVID-19 .
In the context of hygiene in hospital environments, IoT can be used as sensor systems (health IoT application) that monitor and control hygiene practices in these environments, considering the proper frequency and following the correct hand washing standards, in addition to reporting in realtime compliance data to the correct standards. Considering sensors that can determine whether a member of the medical team washed their hands before and after interacting with the patient, the system records incidents of noncompliance which is considered an issue that needs to be addressed rigorously, preventing possible contamination and even the death of patients from infection, as in the case of sepsis. Similarly, through the installation of gel alcohol dispensaries connected by RFID tags (health IoT application) we can monitor the recurrence with which each professional performs the cleaning. This hygiene monitoring through IoT contributes to the preservation of the health of hospitalized patients by reducing the number of nosocomial infections by encouraging the hand hygiene of the institution’s professionals, and it can also be useful in pandemic cases, such as COVID-19 .
Another application of IoT technology in hospital environments aims at safer surgeries through identification using chips and sensors in each of the instruments used in the operating room. It facilitates the traceability of prostheses, special surgical materials, devices, and materials of high added value, enabling the identification of the exact location of each instrument, preventing, for example, that one of them is forgotten inside the patient. The IoT in the context of medicine can also monitor the performance of MRI, as long as the device is equipped with a sensor that measures environmental factors in relation to certain limits by triggering alerts; in case the limits are exceeded, an alert can be sent by e-mail and text or even integrated into a local alarm system .
The use of IoT technology in health can also be applied in collecting information about the lifestyle of patients who are undergoing cancer cure treatment through the use of an activity tracker helping to record exhaustion and activity level. The information is collected daily through apps or wearables (health IoT applications), consisting of a useful technique that identifies and adjusts the treatment according to the need. Since the patient’s reactions to treatment are necessary for personalized adjustments, it is usually done 1 week before treatment and then for several months during the treatment period .
Through IoT applied to healthcare, it is possible to note that patients can be connected to medical service providers, and they provide services remotely. Through the devices, it is possible to collect and send biomedical data and medical information collected through sensor readings, and other methods can be used to quickly analyze health problems, diagnose conditions, and provide real-time support. Through analysis it is possible to obtain several vital statistics of a patient, such as blood pressure and precision integrity scale, or even act as a personalized cardiac monitor, processing the sensor readings and visualizing the data through medical pulsation graphs .
From a medical care perspective, the ability to collect hospital patient information in realtime through a variety of IoT devices and sensors can ensure that healthcare professionals are notified immediately in an emergency and help doctors monitor the patients most effectively, w'hich can mean the difference between life and death not only for patients in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) or pregnant women who require continuous attention but for patients in serious conditions in general; obtaining continuous information about the status of a patient helps empower healthcare professionals to provide personalized care and respond when patients need them most .
IoT applications in the context of medicine allow internal connections between other devices and sensors, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other connections, facilitating connectivity with a variety of medical devices. These examples of IoT in healthcare show how technology can be applied to countless resources for different purposes .
All of these IoT applications in healthcare are very promising, since it is the next frontier already present in patient care, both inside and outside the hospital, considering that the medical sector and related technological progress have been one of the slowest in adopting these new technologies. What is seen in the adoption of Big Data, IoT, and Artificial Intelligence, which have great potential in the healthcare sector, allows analyzing the data collected from connected devices and correlating them with information from the medical literature, generating insights for the entire value chain. For example, it is possible to identify certain regions of a country where there is a higher incidence of a certain pathology .
In this sense, using IoT devices streamlines medical and hospital processes that use IoT solutions to increase efficiency, through implementation in various institutions in the sector, especially in areas focused on patient care. IoT revolutionizes medicine and people’s lives, with a proven return on investment in hospitals and laboratories, in addition to helping to reduce the rate of nosocomial infections. From the patient’s point of view, it will be possible to access the entire medical history at any time and from any place based on information coming from connected devices, that is, the medical record of a lifetime will be concentrated, allowing a much more intelligent analysis, which is assertive and individualized [45-48].