If there’s one industry where the Internet of Things (IoT) could benefit both the consumer and the provider, it’s the healthcare industry.
Wearable technology can record and broadcast valuable medical and health data to healthcare providers allowing doctors and specialists to provide more accurate diagnosis and treatments. And according a study by Strategy Analytics, the role of IoT in healthcare will grow 18% over the next eight years with annual revenue passing $27 billion in 2025.
There’s only one problem. The Internet of Things isn’t living up to its potential.
While IoT can provide major benefits to both patients and healthcare providers, it still has to compete with other technologies for a portion of providers’ budgets. Plus the impact of IoT in healthcare will be dwarfed by the security, primary processing and automotive industries’ spending in the years leading up to 2025.
So why is IoT having such a difficult time getting established in the healthcare industry?
One of the main challenges is the absence of an integrated electronic health record (EHR) system. This means that the data collected by IoT devices has nowhere to go because there’s no way to connect the device to the physicians’ record system. And many doctors still rely on paper charts to keep track of their patients’ health and well-being. Without an upgrade to an EHR and connectivity between device and system, the value of the information is wasted.
Another challenge is a lack of a universal device that can collect a multitude of data points about a patient. A patient with sleep apnea and diabetes relies on both a CPAP machine to record nightly sleep patterns and a blood glucose monitor to keep track of glucose levels. These separate machines report back to their specific care providers but it doesn’t allow for the sharing of data, which prevents any one care provider from analyzing all the data and seeing the whole picture. Plus, owning multiple devices can get expensive for patients if they have a number of varying medical conditions.
Security is also a major obstacle challenging IoT’s implementation in healthcare. With the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), providers are required to safeguard all medical information. A lack of common security standards can lead to data breaches and theft of information. It also opens the possibility of hackers tampering with IoT devices similar to the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on Dynamic Network Services (Dyn) in October 2016.
A final challenge is the lack of consistent connectivity technology. While some devices use Wi-Fi to share or transmit vital healthcare data, other devices use Bluetooth or Z-Wave. Without a universal access of connectivity, all of these devices remain separated, losing the ability to share data into one single patient chart and timeline.
If the Internet of Things is to reach its full potential in the healthcare industry, both IoT and the industry will have to evolve to meet these challenges head on. To do so will mean immeasurable health and financial benefits for both patients and care providers all over the world.