The Omicron Effect: Healthcare IoT in 2022
Just as we thought we were recovering from the pandemic, another Covid-19 variant emerged. By the end of January 2022, the Omicron variant had infected 686,000 people around the world, including almost 3000 people in Indonesia, according to Kata Data and Kontan.co.id. The official Instagram account of DKI Jakarta municipal government also showed a rising number of patients in Wisma Atlet, the central hospital for Covid-19 cases in Jakarta. If not managed properly, the omicron variant could result in another devastating pandemic wave.
Quoted by Link Labs, WHO estimated that 20-40% healthcare spending is caused by inefficient flows. Such inefficiency could prove dangerous when there are massive waves of patients. To avoid another case where our healthcare system is overwhelmed, we need to utilize technology and its functions in assisting both medical professionals and patients. While there are many instances in which technology greatly assists healthcare systems in different countries, one of the technological advancements that we need to utilize is healthcare IoT.
How is the current landscape of healthcare IoT in 2022, and how is it related to the ongoing pandemic? Here are several findings we gathered.
The Growth of Telehealth Practices
Ever since the pandemic began, face-to-face consultation has posed more risks for practitioners and patients. To mitigate the risks, several telemedicine companies have provided a safer consultation practice, which is remote consultation. With IoT, telemedicine consultation during the pandemic has become easier, safer, and more accurate. Patients can now wear devices that send health-related data, such as temperature, blood pressure rate, and oxygen levels. The Integration of AI has also helped practitioners make the best recommendation for patients.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Speaking of telemedicine consultations, the presence of IoT has also allowed remote patient monitoring. Beyond the consultation, the aforementioned data such as heart rate, oxygen level, and body temperature can be collected, stored, and assessed for monitoring. When a patient is infected by Covid-19, for instance, these IoT devices can send alerts whenever their oxygen levels are low so that healthcare providers can quickly take necessary actions, mitigating potentially more severe risks prompted by happy hypoxia.
Patient Data Security Management
Similar to what happened in the first few waves of the pandemic, the omicron variant will generate massive amounts of data in healthcare. What happens when there’s a sudden surge of patient data? The answer may vary, but a certain ramification is security risks. In 2021, the data of 40 million American patients was compromised, according to Tech in Asia. Keeping patient data secure is a challenge for healthcare workers who are not trained in the IT sector, which is why the reliance on IoT for patient data protection is expected to increase in 2022.
Asset and Staff Monitoring
Asset security is as important as patient data security. With greater patient influx, healthcare asset monitoring can become more difficult. This is where IoT will provide great assistance for hospitals. Sensor-equipped IoT devices can help hospital managers monitor equipment such as oxygen pumps, wheelchairs, and defibrillators. IoT can also provide real-time data of medical personnel, such as where they are deployed or which tasks they are assigned to. This will help improve efficiency, especially if the hospital is dealing with a great number of patients.
Last but not least, IoT can transform healthcare experience to become more personalized. As mentioned above, IoT wearables can send data to practitioners, and this can help doctors accurately prescribe a patient’s medicine. In return, a patient can get more accurate, personalized prescriptions that suit not only their current condition, but also future diagnosis. Forbes.com quoted that the Empa healthcare center in Sweden has used AI to estimate the precise amounts of painkillers that a patient can take, for instance.
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