The use of digital and mobile technology is creating smart healthcare solutions for people residing in urban centers. The IOT revolution which has spread itself in energy, transport, security and infrastructure segment will have sweeping results in health care. A unified healthcare system, collecting and sharing of data, analysis and research practices will usher a new era in tackling modern day health problems.
A society is build up by its people. A healthy society creates right balance in every sphere of life. Over the years, advancement in medical sciences created effective diagnosis and solutions for many ill-fated diseases. But the increasing population and urban lifestyle demands a smart healthcare network which can look after its people in a more quick and efficient manner.
In order to provide better healthcare services, medical and pharmaceutical companies, health care professionals, researchers and city managers are working on solutions and IOT devices which can minimize response time, offer quick emergency services, reduce overcrowding in hospitals, give remote treatment and collaborate with doctors around the globe.
What is Smart HealthCare?
Smart Healthcare involves latest digital and mobile devices. They are smart in the sense they are not only curing a disease but also confronting it at the right time. These are Internet of Things (IOT) in healthcare which work through sensors and collect patient’s data remotely. This data can be stored and analyzed by doctors, researchers and health care professionals for better diagnosis and solutions. These digital records are saving cost and time of both patients and hospitals as they are not only offering personalized treatments and medications but giving preventive measures through real time data collection.
Considering this to be a future of healthcare, many companies are investing in IOT healthcare and wearable devices which collect data and build them into a structured form. They are also using Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the assessment and possible outcome of these data for prompt solutions. Many times, when specialized doctors are located elsewhere, help of robots is also taken for communicating, diagnosing and treating the patients.
Smart Wearable Devices
Smart wearable devices are products on the go. An individual or patient can use them to assess their health status or fitness regime without any professional help. To name a few, these devices can help in checking blood and glucose level, body temperature, heartbeat, cardiovascular problems, vision quality and chronic ailments.
These devices have been a boom for diabetic, asthma and heart patients. Products like fitness tracker or fitness bands have gained immense popularity amongst fitness enthusiasts. Companies like Fitbit, Under Armour are showcasing new technologies in these products.
Latest Smart Wearable Devices:
Smart Pulse Oximeter: the device helps in monitoring person’s pulse rate, arterial oxygen saturation (SO2), respiration rate, perfusion index. The device check the amount of oxygen and hemoglobin present in the blood. They are handy products and anyone can operate them by placing them on fingertip or earlobe. They are beneficial in critical emergency care, patients with respiratory or cardiac problems and sleep disorders. Professionals like pilots, mountain climbers, athletes who need to check oxygen level at high altitudes or monitor physical activity can effectively use this product.
Smart Watches: These watches apart from making calls and texts can help people tracks their fitness activities. They come with long life batteries. They present onscreen workouts, inform about the calories burned, active minutes, check on sleep pattern, monitor heartbeat, track running distance etc. Almost all major smartphone companies are developing these watches to tap in their growing market.
3D Printed Pills: These pills were first given a go-ahead by US Food and Drug Administration in 2015. The first drug was called Spritam used for seizures in children and adults with epilepsy. They are porous pills dissolving with a sip of water just like any other pills. The ZipDose technology which is used to develop them allow a more compact packaging and precise dosage. With 3D pills, drugs can be produced near patients and can be customized depending on their treatment.
Smart Contact Lenses: These lenses are developed by Google and help people with poor eyesight and diabetic problem. They measure the glucose level from the tears of person’s eye. They help in restoring eye’s natural autofocus.
Smart Bras: They are helpful in identifying the status of breast health in women. They are embedded with sensors which keep a check on breast tissues and alert about any cancer symptoms. They are connected with an app which records information and guide users about right care in breast health. They are also helpful in tracking fitness activities, breathing count, and heart rate.
Steps taken by Governments in Smart Healthcare
As the countries are moving towards smart city projects and using IOT devices in every aspect of life, smart healthcare projects have also become mandatory for city managers. Governments along with public private partnerships are investing significantly in these projects.
In year 2015, United Arab Emirates (UAE) approved a cabinet backed plan on establishing a unified national health database. The plan aimed to connect all hospitals and clinics for creating effective database about patient’s medical history, ailments, surgeries and tests conducted. By unifying the data, patients can move across hospitals and clinics seamlessly. The goal is to save time and cost of patients and also help doctors in effective diagnosis. The data collected will be used for better research practices, innovations and collaborations with healthcare professionals.
By investing in smart and high quality health care system the country aims to create a competitive edge in the healthcare market and tap in the medical tourism.
Apart from medical benefits, there are also institutional benefits of high quality healthcare systems. It provide better resource, inventory and food management, minimize medical errors, reduce overcrowding in hospitals, and effectively dispose medical wastes. Also, a comprehensive database of medical records save cost of insurance companies.
In South Pacific region, Australia has tremendously worked on its health care sector. In terms of efficient health services, life expectancy rate and better life index it has continuously ranked in top ten positions in past few years. The country attracts considerable medical tourism in the region. It excels in telemedicine and telehealth services and boosts excellent public private hospitals. The country aims to double the expenditure on smart healthcare services in coming years. The plan is to integrate its medical system through better connectivity, data integration, faster delivery, paperless records, improved efficiency and better research practices.
Some examples of smart healthcare projects in country are:
At a major hospital, doctors are able to assess the health of premature babies through real time data analysis. The system quickly alerts doctors for any developments and provide timely solutions reducing time of babies in intensive care units (ICU). At Melbourne University, they are collecting data from different hospitals and clinics and compiling a single repository. The data collected would enable better R&D and provide effective solution for treating colon cancer and epilepsy.
In the end the only possible drawback for smart healthcare system is security issues concerning around medical ID cards which store important private information about patients. Hospitals must ensure secure encryption while issuing these cards and data collected should be utilized only for the benefit of mankind.