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Connected healthcare is about to transform the way we think and feel about our wellbeing. Here’s why.
How often have you been in a healthcare space over the past 12 months? Perhaps a trip to the Doctors or Dentist, or even a hospital appointment or stayover. Chances are, most of those experiences occur in times of need. Perhaps when you’re under the weather, attempting to get to the bottom of a condition or visiting a loved one.
Truth is, our healthcare spaces haven’t changed much in over thirty years. Yet how we perceive and interact with the world around us, outside of healthcare, has. We’re the most hyper-tuned, hyper-targeted set of individuals ever to have lived and our environments reflect that. As a result, a connected healthcare space that utilizes IoT, smart systems, sensors and wearables to improve our health is not all that far away.
In this article we’ll look at five big benefits in the connected healthcare space and what they mean for the future of our hospitals.
One of the big benefits of the connected healthcare space, is that well, it doesn’t have to be a space at all! Think about the system we have right now. You get ill (often out of the blue, unless it’s an ongoing condition). You call up for an appointment, you sit and wait for an appointment, then you have to go somewhere else to pick your medication up or even return at a later date to see a specialist.
Unlike the system we use today, the connected healthcare space doesn’t have to physically sit within a healthcare centre. It’s a space that’s made up of treatment within a hospital or surgery, as well as treatment and services you can receive in your own home, the car, or even your place of work.
Patients can be diagnosed and receive treatment or advice at home using smart wearables. This will simultaneously free up hospitals to treat those who need to be admitted, at the same time reducing the risk of transferring diseases or illnesses between patients.
They say prevention is the best cure right? Well with the rise of wearables, hearables and even ingestible sensors, you could prevent illnesses much more easily. The connected healthcare space is all about bringing together different types of smart technology which make the system much more easy to navigate.
It also joins up many more areas than those we usually associate with getting ill, taking into consideration diet, hereditary conditions, environmental concerns and lifestyle. It’s unlikely that most of us will jump on the bandwagon for a pair of glasses that kick off every time we pick up a donut. But, if we were able to have an invisible smart device that would alert us to an arising condition, wouldn’t it help us to prevent and plan more effectively?
One analyst even predicts we will be able to wear ‘Moodables’, which as the name suggests, are devices which check for brain and sensory activity relating to mood disorders.
Not only could these Moodables adapt and release specific medication designed to regulate mood, but it could also send alerts and push notifications to friends and relatives.
Much of today’s healthcare system relies on qualitative data and doctor/patient conversations. There isn’t any real time data or the time needed for medical experts to analyze it, to make a huge difference to a patient in a moment of need.
Yet IoT’s big sister is in fact, big data. Part of connecting the different areas of the healthcare space, relies on joining up the data using cloud computing and virtualized infrastructures. Taking data from wearables, monitors, sensors and other devices and running them at high speed to determine a specific course of action.
Using data to drive decisions will benefit patients and allow doctors to feel more confident in choosing a specific course of action. Heck - patients could even begin to make their own treatment plans if there were enough data sources and a way of easily digesting the information available.
The connected healthcare space is one that’s keen to minimize error - by keeping store and analyzing each minute piece of patient data and putting it to good use.
The connected healthcare space makes vast improvements to the patients being treated as well as the Doctors treating them.
Take digital signage as one example. Studies have shown that moving images can help to incite feelings of calm, reduce patient stress and reduce perceived treatment waiting time within healthcare centres.
Digital screens of the not-so-distant future will be voice enabled, allowing patients to change the content shown on screen, connect with family members through apps such as Slack and review their medical information, even if they can’t move or do much else.
Even a home device like the Glow Cap which measures out your medication and daily dose for you could make a huge difference to the stresses associated with managing health conditions.
All of these technologies will reduce the negatives often associated with healthcare and hospitals and create a friendlier, more universally-accessible healthcare space.
Most healthcare organizations can barely stay on top of the day-to-day, let alone stay ahead of it. The connected healthcare space looks to implement solutions which not only make daily planning and condition analysis easier, but that look ahead to prevent common patterns from reoccurring.
Think about a simple database or system that would allow you to link the same condition that’s occured in every patient across the country. Or access to data around every treatment plan that’s ever been delivered in response to a specific disease and the effect over a 10-year period.
IoT technologies and smarter healthcare systems are maturing quickly. Add all of the intelligence of a smart system of sensors and data machines, to patient data and the expertise of experienced healthcare professionals and you get a system that allows you to anticipate and predict healthcare trends.
Leading to a connected healthcare system where nearly no time is needed to analyze and review data manually, but where the information is at our fingertips ready to be actioned almost immediately.
If you’ve ever experienced bad healthcare, or been disappointed in a hospital system, then we’re sure you can recognize the benefits of a more connected healthcare system. Smarter systems, better data management and a relief on our healthcare professionals led by healthcare analysis, will contribute to us not only being healthier but happier too.