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Internet of Things in healthcare: What's next for IoT technology in the health sector

Graysen Christopher | July 20, 2016
How Internet of Things technology is changing the healthcare industry

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Internet of Things technology holds the potential to revolutionise the healthcare industry, but not before overcoming barriers of security and data ownership.

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to any physical object embedded with technology capable of exchanging data and is pegged to create a more efficient healthcare system in terms of time, energy and cost. One area where the technology could prove transformative is in healthcare - with analysts at claiming the sector will be worth $117 million by 2020.

By embedding IoT-enabled devices in medical equipment, healthcare professionals will be able to monitor patients more effectively - and use the data gleaned from the devices to figure out who needs the most hands-on attention. In other words, by making the most of this network of devices, healthcare professionals could use data to create a system of proactive management - as they say, prevention is better than the cure.

Speaking with Computerworld UK, Leon Marsh, CEO of body-sensing technology firm Inova Design Solutions, incubated by IoT-specialist incubator Breed Reply, says the IoT market is about a continuous way to perform non-invasive and accurate monitoring. "If issues arise, they will be apparent before it becomes an emergency situation," Marsh explains.

And telepresence could prove a big win for remote healthcare - whether that's before or after a visit to the doctor's office or the hospital. Health tech's biggest advocates believe efficient remote health could dramatically cut down on the necessity for routine reviews and checkups.

Patients would also be allowed to leave hospitals and clinics earlier, as professionals are enabled to monitor them from home rather than keeping them in hospitals for observation.

Britain's National Health Service announced its Test Bed Programme in 2015, with the first trials taking place from the start of this year . The Test Bed Programme is a way to experiment with health technology, including IoT-enabled devices - one such trial provides connected tools to people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and allows them to more effectively self-manage their conditions from home.

The Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM) Test Bed, meanwhile, is led by the Surrey & Borders NHS Foundation Trust in conjunction with a number of universities, charities, technology companies and health societies.

It aims to introduce IoT-enabled technologies to 700 people suffering from dementia and their carers - equipping people with sensors, wearables, monitors and other such devices to monitor their health at home, hopefully allowing them to stay within their own homes for longer.

According to the England NHS website, the project ultimately aims to "prevent or delay the need for costly long-term care in nursing homes" - plus reducing the need for unplanned hospital admissions or GP visits.


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