As we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, machines will now transform from just being our subservient sidekicks to dominant thinking, connected platforms that can change the way things are done. Our environment is getting smarter thanks to the recent developments in Artificial Intelligence, or AI and Internet of Things or IoT. The prowess of these technologies working in unison has been well researched and documented in areas such as driverless cars and connected homes. Now the focus is on healthcare as patients, physicians and hospitals worldwide are starting to unravel just how these revolutionary technologies can provide the best in medical care through reducing costs, aiding in medication management, disease prevention and more.
IOT, simply put, is all about connecting devices to the internet to allow them to relay data promptly soon after being generated. Smart wristbands like Fitbit which collect your personal fitness data is just one example of how IOT devices function and the benefits they offer. And just like how Fitbit captures data during running and walking, IOT will enable each one of us to be surrounded by devices that readily monitor our physical health and collect all of those disparate pieces of information to build our medical profile in real time. This data can then be fed to AI machines that transform all of that critical data collected by our devices into actionable insights that can significantly improve our quality of life.
The healthcare industry is now finally opening up to the advantages these technologies have to offer towards building a more personalized, low-cost care system that benefits as many people as possible. A recent study revealed that 87% of healthcare organizations will adopt IOT in some form by 2019. While improvements and enhancements in monitoring and maintenance have been cited as the foremost causes of why IOT is being deployed by firms, the usage will diversify once the technology becomes much more widespread as mentioned in the study.
The impact of IoT and AI in healthcare will have room to expand even further than what the prediction entails as there is already existing infrastructure present that will help the technology integrate with the system in place in a much more aligned manner. Telehealth solutions have been around for quite a while in mainstream healthcare, and they have helped massively in providing care to even the most remote of populations by making facilities like remote monitoring and e-visits possible.
Recent advancements in AI and IOT could use the existing mechanisms in medical facilities to enhance and amplify the services already available to patients. In conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the initial symptoms are pretty inconsistent to discern by an untrained eye and it’s practically impossible to keep each elderly person under supervision. However, if doctors ‘remain connected’ to patients 24/7, they are in a better position to address the symptoms and minor concerns before something major happens. That’s right. If the home is fitted with smart devices connected to the IoT, initial signs of such diseases could become much more transparent as they present data in a much more balanced way.
Things like forgetting to turn off light switches and leaving the refrigerator door open might look pretty normal, but when seen these signs are viewed collectively over a period of time, they paint a revealing picture. And even if there is currently no cure available for diseases like Parkinson’s disease, this initial diagnosis could help patients lead a much better life by making the problems much more manageable. This is where existing telehealth solutions would come in and allow doctors to schedule regular e-visits with patients when and where they need them, and in the case of elderly people who have limited mobility, the situation couldn’t have found a better solution.
But it’s not just about the elderly. Telehealth solutions will also allow doctors to engage more productively with their work when aided by AI led machines that are connected to the IOT. Better workflow management and back-end support are just some of the innovations that will lead to lower costs and better quality of care without requiring much investment upfront.
Some manifestations of how this mechanism would function have been recently adopted by medical care facilities to great advantages. For, e.g., Firms like Enlitic are producing AI led software that analyzes medical reports like X-rays, and CT scans more accurately than humans, allowing efficiency to exponentially increase and make doctors dedicate all their time towards finding solutions to problems while repetitive work is taken care of by such disruptive technologies. Patients could share their medical reports through IOT integrated machines and doctors can then provide answers when relieved of the task of managing the whole process on their own.
But this is just the start of re-envisioning of how modern health care functions. We are not far from the time when robots will perform critical surgeries like total knee replacements. Accenture has predicted that healthcare will be the no: 1 place where most IOT engagements occur in the next decade. Amidst of all these significant disruptions, telehealth will play a critical role in making these technologies go mainstream and realize their real potential. Most of the problems that the deployment of AI and IOT will encounter in other domains have already been countered by telehealth solutions like issues on data security and patient privacy in the digital domain.
Remember, there is no better time than this to consider inculcating telehealth within your medical practice. You can then harness these technologies to the fullest and as soon as they arrive to provide exceptional care to patients in the future.
About the author:
Rachael Everly loves to write on the topics related to business leadership, finance, technology and education. Her passion and flare for writing got her to write for topics that interest her such as recent technological trends and how they shape the business world. Her thought-provoking writing style has made her work to be recognized on well-known websites. She has been featured on some of the top blogs such as Inman, Forbes, Escape Artist and many others currently associated with Equip Sells It, a heavy machinery and equipment dealer in Sanford, Florida for their blogging operations. Follow her on Twitter @RachaelEverly, become friends on Facebook and connect with her on Linkedin for further updates.