The Internet of Things – IoT, to those in the know – continues to be a hot topic across pretty much all market verticals. That’s due in no small part to the number of potential use cases for IoT, which is already practically infinite but still somehow growing every day.
Survey the year-end wrap-up posts related to IoT – like this top trends in IoT for 2023 post from Forbes – and you’ll likely notice an IoT use case that many of those lists have in common as being hot for 2023: Healthcare. Indeed, healthcare is such a fruitful field for IoT that various ways of labeling it have sprouted up, but new enough that there is not yet a clear winner as to terminology: IoMT (Internet of Medical Things), IoHT (Internet of Healthcare Things or Internet of Hospital Things, depending on who you ask), and connected health / connected healthcare solutions are all in current use, as is the more staid and less glamorous “IoT for healthcare.” (Less staid, and maybe slightly more glamorous? In the UK, the National Health Service is calling it ”virtual wards.”)
But regardless of whether one labels it connected healthcare solutions or anything else, IoT in healthcare is a trending topic that will be one of the hottest IoT areas in 2023. With that in mind, and because who doesn’t love a good “Top 3” and year-end wrap-up post, we’re proud to present one of our very own: The Top 3 Healthcare IoT use cases.
Top 3 IoT for Healthcare Topics in 2023
1. Is Telehealth Here to Stay?
Virtual office visits to healthcare providers – telehealth – became a common way of accessing medical treatment during the COVID lockdowns. The U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) finds that telehealth visits under Medicare increased 10X during COVID, with some states seeing a 15X increase in Medicaid telehealth visits — and yes, 10X and 15x mean a staggering 1000% and 1500% growth, respectively, in telehealth visits.
Aside from government action, there are market forces at play that will also contribute to telehealth remaining a hot IoT topic for 2023. Health insurance companies, for example, are heavily invested in growing their telehealth platforms and access for their members. Telehealth enables health insurers to get their members the coverage they need to stay healthy, but at a lower cost than traditional office or clinic visits – a win-win for both insurers and consumers of telehealth services, a fact to which the telehealth marketplace is bound to pay continued attention in 2023.
In short, remote patient monitoring allows for healthcare providers to keep a virtual eye on patients without those patients having to make costly and time-consuming – and in pandemic-times, potentially dangerous – trips to doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other in-person healthcare provider settings.
Aside from convenience, though, there are other great reasons why RPM will continue to remain an important topic:
America is facing a coming shortage in primary care providers
At the same time, the American population is rapidly aging, requiring more services
RPM allows for this aging population to more readily age in place
Healthcare providers themselves are rapidly adopting RPM
And not only does remote patient monitoring provide a variety of benefits to both patients and healthcare providers, the scope of conditions that can be monitored is broad – and with more remote patient monitoring devices continually coming on the market, that scope is only getting broader. Consider that connected monitors for pulse ox, blood glucose, sleep apnea, blood pressure, problems related to Parkinson’s and dementia, and many other diverse conditions are already on the market, and that many more will be joining them, and it should be obvious as to why remote patient monitoring will be a hot topic in IoT for healthcare not just in 2023, but far beyond.
3. Private Networks in Healthcare Settings
Cybersecurity is important in any setting – but it is especially important in a healthcare setting, where not only financial data but also patients’ personal health information (PHI) and electronic health records (EHR) must be readily available for instant access as well as constantly safeguarded. Nor is this a hypothetical problem: between 2009 and 2021, over 314 million healthcare records were improperly lost, stolen, or exposed, a number that equates to almost 95% of the U.S. population. Furthermore, because HIPAA and state attorney generals can pile on monetary penalties for data breaches, they can be costly. In 2021, healthcare entities were fined almost $6 million for data breaches, with 2018 setting the ignominious record of almost $28.7 in fines.
Despite the cybersecurity risks, though, hospitals continue to implement IoT solutions useful in a wide variety of scenarios. Aside from improved patient monitoring similar to that used in RPM, hospitals are also using IoT implementations to do things like improve patient flow from intake to bed assignment to discharge, increase efficiencies in lighting, HVAC, and other physical plant metrics, and monitor staff rotations to ensure people are in the right place at the right time.
The vast opportunities that IoT affords healthcare providers, though, comes with increased vulnerability to cyberattack – which is one of the biggest reasons why private 5G and LTE networks inside of the healthcare setting will continue to be a hot topic in medical IoT for 2023. Private networks can isolate all the internal devices on the network – smart hospital beds, HVAC sensors, pulse ox monitors, what have you – from the external internet. An extra layer of security is thus provided against cyberattack, as well as making the private network faster and more reliable than a comparable network built directly on the public internet.
At Kajeet, we have extensive experience in providing IoT and device connectivity for the healthcare industry – so feel free to check out these further resources: