Health industry is one the largest in any country both in terms of the required reach to the masses and in terms of per capita budget. Human being save money to live comfortably, to get their child married, to buy a house and last but not the least to pay for medical bills. As per the latest reports on USA health stats only 21 out of 100 people (< 65 age) have medical coverage. But the spend on prescription drugs is rapidly increasing from 2004 ($192 B) to 2014 ($297) however maximum of this spend is funded by private savings. Scenario is not much different in other developed countries.
On the other end if we look at developing countries like India, then as per WHO the top 10 reason of deaths in India includes hearth diseases, obstructive pulmonary, stroke and so on.
Other emerging and under developed nations will have similar stats or even worse. So why do I think IoT based solutions can improve these stats in a positive way? Let's see some of the health and medical related IoT apps, devices, solutions and monitoring systems that can have a cost effective impact on these issues. Additionally I think if Government increase its spend on R&D it can immensely help to make the solutions more scalable and deployable.
Proactive Health Solutions: Yolo Health ATM is an integrated health screening kiosk with integrated medical devices such as Glucometer, BP monitor, BMI calculator, etc, and also staffed by a medical attendant. This can be next generation kiosk that will help people, short on time, to be more proactive about their health. This also holds potential to be deployed in rural areas where primary healthcare penetration is limited. Wearables such as FitBit, Apple Watch and various health bands are not new to us and they help a great deal in tracking your activities in real time.
Remote Patient Monitoring: Healthcare providers and family members always wish to monitor the health of the patient in real time. Pre and Post operative measures are taken to monitor patients health and IoT can enable solution that can allow to achieve this more efficiently and economically. Real time information, published through cloud, will help caregivers to make informed decisions and diagnosis, which are more evidence based. In the current world it is a mixture of symptoms, patients reactions and doctors gut feel which sometimes leads to trial and error diagnosis. IoT can provide real time data and more accurate information at the right time, which can revolutionize the healthcare market. This will also help in preventive disease management, reduced health care cost, enhanced patient experience, reduced errors and shorter recovery cycle.
Drugs Management: From the point of improving process on the manufacturing and R&D facilities using sensor based proactive maintenance systems and real time information feeding pipes to improving the tracking of drugs from the point of distribution to the point of purchase - IoT has a big role to play. While I won't go deep as they are not directly healthcare related but I would like to mention - supply chain management, fleet management, asset tracking, temperature and humidity monitoring and inventory management are all the categories of solutions that can help in this area.
Forbes article talks about partnership between Qualcomm and Philips to focus on creating healthcare IoT solutions such as connected dispensers for medicines, biological sensors, self care glucose meters for diabetics to an integrated cloud system for health record monitoring. Connected Medical Equipment which can transmit the data captured through sensors and of course from the patient directly onto the cloud for transparency and monitoring purpose as described here is a very handy use case for IoT.
Personal Health Data Security: However the concern many of us is security and safety of that sensitive private data about my health to be lost, hacked, misused by anyone. What if the data is captured and used for targeting ads at me? I think this is fine because it will only SPAM my life but not endanger it. Healthcare IoT Security Risk is a worth short article to read. LinkLabs also talks some of these use cases and concerns nicely.