The healthcare industry is constantly implementing the latest technologies that optimize processes to help the medical workforce, along with technologies that better patient outcomes and help save lives. The global demand for the Internet of Things (IoT) in the healthcare industry will reach $534.3 billion by 2025 as per market forecasts. This predicted growth highlights the key role IoT devices are going to have as they are used for many applications, including patient monitoring, operations management, and more.
IoT devices can prove indispensable for the healthcare industry, but some shortcomings have reduced their viability for implementation at scale. Many of these related solutions are battery-powered, that need maintenance time to replace the batteries frequently. The already busy hospital workers have to take time to replace all these batteries which is additional stress, and buying new batteries is an additional cost. Minimal maintenance and reasonable costs of the materials will make the IoT devices more widely accepted across the healthcare industry. Battery waste is also considered a serious environmental concern by various hospitals.
Some pioneering technologies have surfaced over the past few years to resolve the problems related to batteries in IoT devices, bringing new prospects for the IoT in healthcare. Some major technologies that will be considerably helpful in prolonging the battery life of wireless devices would be the lowest power radio, on-demand wake-up, and multisource controlled energy harvesting. Connected devices can function with minimum power, and make the most of battery life using the lowest power radio technology. Devices can listen for incoming transmissions (such as sounds) with the help of on-demand wake-up technology even in a very low power state.
Controlled energy harvesting technology facilitates devices, such as battery-free beacons, to get energy from movement, heat, the light in the room, or even radio frequency (RF) from other devices. When these technologies are used with the latest Bluetooth standard, Bluetooth 5.0, they can power forever battery life. It is possible that batteries need not be replaced during the lifetime of a device or batteries are not even needed in a device.
Below are some of the healthcare applications that would benefit from these types of devices.
Using Wearables For Exposure Notification Systems
Exposure notification systems are used worldwide to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Bluetooth is used in these systems to switch anonymous identifiers with other smartphones that are not more than six feet away. Medical facilities require purpose-built devices for their exposure notification systems and smartphones are beneficial only for the masses to be aware of their possible exposure to the virus. These devices will probably be small wearables such as wrist bands or beacons that are user-friendly, comfortable enough for all-day wear, and easy on the pocket.
Medical facilities can use custom exposure notification systems and set certain considerations depending on the requirements of their environment. Other kinds of important data, including a person’s temperature, to help check for potential symptoms can also be tracked using these wearables. These wearables can be launched in lots of healthcare settings such as hospitals, medical offices, and nursing homes.
Remote Patient Monitoring With Wearables
Wearables not only help in exposure notification but also for other kinds of noncritical patient monitoring. It can especially be helpful for the healthcare industry which is facing a shortage of workforce. Nurses and doctors can use wearable tags, badges, wrist bands, and rings to keep tabs on a patient’s vitals without having to continuously follow them. These devices can offer information about a variety of biometrics data, including blood pressure and heart rate.
Forever battery life devices and battery-free wearables allow healthcare professionals to use their precious time to concentrate on the critical and non-critical patients that need attention. These devices have energy harvesting technologies and other low power enhancements which facilitates them to track patients’ vitals without requiring battery replacement, providing an inexpensive and dependable method to improve patient care.
Tracking Machines And Equipment With Smart Sensors
It can be a tiresome job to track hospital assets like medical equipment and computers. Hospitals can outfit machines with small tag-like beacons or sensors to easily track thousands of assets simultaneously and guarantee that every place has the required equipment. For example, the hospital team has to keep track of many defibrillators on every floor. If a defibrillator is misplaced, a sensor can keep track of its location and medical staff need not worry about searching for equipment. Since hospitals throughout the country are facing the challenge of accounting for all their equipment, therefore wirelessly connected battery-free devices will make it easier to track medical assets in real-time, equally benefiting hospital workers as well as patients.
Using Smart Beacons For On-Site Navigation
It can be a challenge for both patients and medical professionals to navigate large hospitals and healthcare campuses. A smartphone’s GPS can be used to find the building but is not very helpful indoors if you are looking for a particular room. Smart beacons can be placed around medical campuses and buildings, allowing patients and employees to use a smartphone app to find their way around, both inside and outside, easier. Such apps will be helpful at a time when hospitals are busy and staff is limited. Forever battery and battery-free IoT solutions can solve some of the smaller concerns in the health care field so that the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals can concentrate on saving lives and keeping people healthy.