The Internet of Things in the health sector: the challenges

Smartwatch Health Briki

Last week we talked about the possible applications of the Internet of Things in the health sector and the possibility of applying the technology both to streamline some of the processes in the medical field and to reduce their costs.

In this article, written thanks to the support of an article published in peerbits.com, we’ll tell you about the other side of the coin: the various and very serious challenges to be faced to make the health sector more technological. Finally, we’ll list wearable devices powered by IoT to improve patients’ quality of life.

The main challenge: data security and privacy
The biggest dangers faced when working with patients’ sensitive data are  security breaches and the lack of respect for privacy and cybersecurity. IoT devices, operating through real-time data transmission, are constantly at risk of cyber attacks. It is therefore necessary to protect patients’ personal data in every way possible as it could be stolen by hackers and used to produce fake documents, to buy medicines and/or medical equipment for resale or to commit fraud.

In addition to this risk, there is the issue of regulating data ownership, which is not always clear.

Overload and data accuracy
A tremendous amount of data is collected on IoT devices. Users who have to consult it (primarily doctors) often find it problematic because of the large amount of aggregate data: difficulty in reading the data – and the complicated extraction of useful information to enable them to treat patients correctly – can be a serious problem, which must be solved urgently.

Costs
Previously we stressed the need to make the IoT a consolidated reality, in order to contain the costs of a health-care system that is becoming increasingly elitist.

Health-care costs are rising and not everyone can afford adequate care. One of the consequences of this is the famous phenomenon of “medical tourism”: patients go to less wealthy countries where health care costs very little compared to their country of origin.

There is a need, therefore, to make the IoT a real possibility for health-care at a global level, but this depends above all on the cost of the IoT itself: it should become more affordable so it will also be within reach of ordinary people, and not just the more affluent social classes.

Wearable Iot devices: an overview
Thanks to the IoT, some devices which make everyday life easier, are available to be worn by patients. Here are some:

Acoustic devices: the new generation of hearing aids connect to a smartphone’s Bluetooth and, thanks to many innovative functions, allow the patient to interact better with the sounds that surround him. For example, they can manage the volume that is transmitted from the TV to the hearing aids, rather than adjusting the TV’s own volume, which therefore remains at a level acceptable to other people in the room. Or they connect to the patient’s smartphone, allowing him to make and receive phone calls.

Ingestible sensors: as big as a common pill, ingestible sensors are able to monitor the body’s reaction to drugs. The activity of the ingestible sensors ensures that, in case of health problems, any help can be put in place immediately.

Moodables: these are really extraordinary devices that can control brain waves in people with stress disorders, and regulate a patient’s mood and frame of mind  through the transmission of low-intensity electric currents.

Computer vision technology: Computer vision technology is an evolution of artificial intelligence, and in particular of the image recognition sector. This technology allows you to use images and movies to perform extremely complex analyses, which the human eye would never be capable of. AI and Computer vision technology, together, are the beating heart in some types of drones, enabling them to autonomously activate a certain type of decision-making process, so they can (among other things) avoid and circumvent obstacles.

To find out more about the IoT and for more information on Meteca, don’t hesitate to contact us.