The “Internet of Things” has been growing at a stunning rate. Some experts have estimated more than 20 billion devices will be connected by 2020. There are already more devices connected to the IoT than there are people on the planet.
The sheer expansiveness of the IoT has meant no field has been left untouched. Healthcare is no exception to the rule. IoT healthcare devices account for a growing percentage of connections.
The diversity of IoT in healthcare showcases what this technology can do for the field, such as improving patient care and more.
What is it doing in medical research labs? Smarter labs are already becoming the norm. We’ll look at some of the ways IoT-enabled devices are improving lab functions for the future.
Before we begin, let’s answer a basic question. How does IoT work?
Until recently, humans had to interface with machines at every step of the way. The Internet allowed machines to communicate with each other with more ease. Using a specific language, computers could send and receive information across a network.
Today, this communication capability is being built into machines like dishwashers and refrigerators. The IoT is a collection of devices talking to each other with little human interaction.
What’s the point of this? For example, It allows your thermostat to send an alert to your phone if the temperature changes while you’re out and about.
What about the Internet of Things in healthcare? The most popular example is wearables like a Fitbit or an Apple Watch. These devices can monitor patients and send data back to healthcare providers.
IoT Healthcare Devices in the Lab
Wearables may be the most common IoT healthcare device, but they’re not the most useful for medical research labs. What kinds of devices are labs looking to adopt?
There are quite a few actually. One great example is the adoption of smart monitoring devices. They can do everything from track the temperature in your lab to check for CO2 leaks.
When they detect a problem, these devices transmit an alert to another device. You may be able to reset the system remotely, or you can then check in on the lab. In emergency situations, the device can even notify others.
IoT devices can also help you maintain compliance. Consider vaccines, which must be stored and handled the right way for effectiveness. IoT devices can log data at each checkpoint in vaccine handling to ensure you meet guidelines.
Using Technology to Improve Care
Smart devices sound clever, but you might wonder if IoT serves a purpose for the medical research lab. Maintaining the right temperature is important. Does an IoT monitoring system really represent an improvement though?
Yes, because it helps your lab meet strict guidelines and maintain compliance. In turn, you can be sure you’re storing vaccines and samples in a safe way.
IoT devices also help improve patient care. Your lab may not need the data collected by a patient’s wearable, but a doctor can use that data to explain test results. This data could also help determine samples that may be contaminated.
These devices can also help improve patient care by connecting patients themselves. They can track their lab results or receive notifications about results sooner.
Another advantage is improving workflows for medical professionals. They too can receive notifications about lab results sooner.
Advancing Research with IoT
IoT devices allow labs to model common health conditions to improve understanding. This is easier with the increasing amount of data available.
It could help researchers find new treatments and understand the causes of diseases. An example is an app developer using smart devices to test for early indicators of lung disease.
All in all, IoT in healthcare works to collect more data and make it available for use. This creates a more complete picture of patient health for medical practitioners at every stage. It also improves safety and compliance in labs, which enhances patient care.
Stumbling Blocks for Labs
Now that you understand why healthcare needs the IoT. You might wonder why the technology is not everywhere. There are barriers preventing labs and other healthcare providers from adopting IoT technology.
Cost is often one issue. Another common problem is system integration. Adding a smart device to your lab may force you to upgrade old computer systems or expand network capacity.
Security Risks and IoT
A bigger problem for healthcare providers is patient privacy and data security. There have already been concerns raised about hackers getting data from patient wearables.
There are also concerns healthcare data is being given to insurance providers. Insurers may deny people insurance based on their lifestyle or existing health issues.
The security of patient data is as much a concern for labs as it is for other healthcare providers. To make use of the IoT, labs and other medical establishments have to use apps with the ability to share data. This information could be hacked or intercepted.
Another issue is the potential for someone to disrupt lab conditions. Someone could hack a monitoring system and change the temperature. This would ruin samples and vaccines.
While this scenario may seem unlikely, it is possible. Medical lab researchers have to keep these sorts of risks in mind as they adopt new technologies.
Labs Will Continues to Get Smarter
It’s clear IoT healthcare devices have already come a long way in making today’s labs smarter. There’s no doubt technological improvements and easier access to data will continue. In short, labs will continue getting smarter.
From better patient interactions to compliance with developing early detection tests, IoT devices can do it all.
Is it time to make your lab smarter? A great place to start is with smart monitoring technology for lab systems. This can help you achieve compliance and protect lab functions and your patients.
If you need a hand determining your lab’s needs, get in touch with the experts. We can help you find the right devices and make better choices for the smart lab of the future.