The Internet of Things has applications that range all the way from automated manufacturing, to controlling the temperature of residential air conditioners. One particular area where IoT is hugely beneficial, is in the medical equipment industry.
With IoT devices expected to reach 25 billion by 2020, it’s almost guaranteed that a large number of these sensors will be embedded in medical equipment. What benefits are connected sensors bringing to the medical industry, and are there still concerns to be addressed?
How IoT is Improving Healthcare
According to Digi-Key Electronics, a worldwide distributor of key IoT sensors and technologies, the benefits can be found in a number of areas:
Challenges for IoT Medical Device Manufacturers
Although there are millions of IoT medical devices in use today, there are numerous opportunities for improvement. Before these high tech devices can truly become the standard for in-patient and out-patient care, these opportunities should be met, and all concerns should be alleviated.
- There is no worldwide standard for wireless connectivity for IoT connected medical devices. The FDA has put forth some strong recommendations, including wireless protocols to use, and what to consider when it comes to interference and data loss. However, robust global standards are necessary for widespread adoption and implementation.
- Security is still a major concern for IoT devices. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the most popular IoT medical pumps in the United States were vulnerable to hacking, and could even be controlled from a remote source.
Hackers control medical pumps to administer fatal doses
Benefits to Non-Reporting Equipment
Although patients will always be the priority in medicine, there are other ways that IoT will help to improve the healthcare system. IoT will benefit even the devices that aren’t required to collect data. Electronic sensors can be built in to critical equipment and can be used to collect usage statistics, and even track and schedule maintenance. With all of the data coming to a central location, it could increase the efficiency of hospitals and clinics, which in turn could reduce operating costs. The obvious knock on effect is that patients would receive better care, from equipment that is maintained to a higher standard.
The Internet of Things Brings New Life to the Medical Equipment Industry
Connected Devices Simply Make Sense
There is perhaps no other industry that could benefit as much from IoT, as healthcare. Connected medical devices will free up much needed resources in clinics, reduce the stress and cost for those undergoing care, and will improve the service in hospitals and other health care facilities.
If equipment designers and manufacturers can overcome key security and standards challenges, there is little doubt that IoT devices will be the norm within the next decade, and will be on the leading edge of innovation amongst the wider Internet of Things.