The Internet of Things is embracing not only technical industries but other fields as well. IoT has the potential to reach areas where it has never been before, which opens up new opportunities for creative implementation.
In recent times, a need for healthcare across the globe has emerged, and nothing could better meet this need than connecting patients and doctors worldwide with the combination of IoT and Telemedicine.
A leading visionary in this field is Dr. Tina Miranda. She is a board- certified physician and co-founder of TeleMedCo, a “company whose mission is to bring cutting edge technology to the worldwide healthcare industry to offer an elevated level of care at significantly reduced costs.”
Dr. Miranda started her career working as an ER doctor. This is where she realized she was passionate about finding a solution to make the often hectic and overcrowded emergency department more efficient.
She developed a vision for using telemedicine to make it faster for medical professionals to treat patients, as well as increasing positive outcomes and reducing costs.
With the combination of the IoT and telemedicine, Dr. Miranda wishes to not only to better emergency medicine departments, but the healthcare system’s approach to patient care.
Adoption of Telemedicine programs and systems is gradually increasing and bolstered by the survey conducted by HIMSS Analytics, which states that the adoption of Telemedicine systems has increased to 61.3% in 2016. A survey conducted by FOLEY, in 2017, states that more than 80% of the providers on whom the survey was conducted were willing to roll out the international telemedicine programs within three years.
In order to implement IoT technology successfully in Telemedicine it is very important to also deploy devices at the patients’ home remotely, outside of the emergency department.
“There have been some amazing advancements in the field of telemedicine recently,” Dr. Miranda said. “For example, one engineering student has been working on the project of making a smart textile solution where connections to a heart monitor are embedded into the clothing to monitor a patient’s rhythms. If a spike in EKG is detected, the device will immediately notify a nurse and a call will be made to the patient to make sure they’re okay.”
This is all possible through Internet of Things (IoT) devices that continuously gather data without disturbing the patient. Dr. Miranda and her partners at TeleMedCo are aiming to introduce this cutting-edge technology by implementing telemedicine devices throughout the healthcare system.
They provide software in collaboration with IBM Watson that assists doctors in treating and prescribing their patients more efficiently. Besides patients receiving advantages of Telemedicine, providers will be lucky to see the enriching side of the technology:
- Faster responses to their patient and reaching out them immediately (in few seconds) remotely
- Fewer hospital visits and less overcrowding in hospitals
- Real time data monitoring of the patient 24/7
- Providing instant and accurate service without visiting the patient’s home
Dr. Miranda has also recently initiated a project to build telemedicine clinics in Puerto Rico, through the Tel-America program. “There is so much more we can do when we enable doctors to meet with patients thousands of miles away – this changes the way medical volunteerism will happen in the future. We are starting a pilot in Puerto Rico, which was devasted by the hurricane in 2017, then will expand based on what we learn to other areas in Puerto Rico. From there, we’ll move to other countries while also working on pop-up telemedicine services which can be in place in hours following natural disasters.”
For the healthcare sector, IoT mainly depends upon two-layer architecture: utilizing adapters and processors to manage the connectivity of sensors that are responsible to transmit the patients’ medical data in digital form through gateways over a longer distance. If the patient is physically challenged and is wheelchair bound, it is imperative to monitor the physiological parameters of the human body, which can be achieved by integrating tele-medical devices.
TeleMedCo is aiming to develop the IoT based integrated technology in and to reach out to rural areas in the US as well, using a low-cost health sensor platform.
“Smart solutions like this create myriad opportunities for IoT technology companies, and we’re seeing tremendous creativity in this area, which is why we are also launching www.telemedpro.com this spring, including a resource center online that will make it easier for people to find telemedicine and telehealth information, non-profits, and for-profit companies innovating in the connected world.”
Advancements by visionaries like Dr. Miranda will improve the current transparency between clients and health service providers, while also reducing the cost of care and dramatically expanding access to care.
In a country like Nepal, where ensuring affordable and accessible community health care is a significant challenge; telemedicine can be a game-changer. As countries worldwide are embracing this model of health care, Nepal is behind but catching up.
Afghanistan, a country located in central Asia with a population of over 38 million and a life expectancy of 61-64 years in men and women respectively, has been facing decades of war, social problems, and intense poverty for more than a century. Since the 1970s, social conflict and civil war have led a large number of the population to suffer from mental health problems, mostly in youths between the ages of 18-25.
As the adoption of telemedicine continues to grow dramatically, even as the healthcare and health insurance industries prepare for months of COVID-19 treatment and vaccination programs, the crossroads of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT for patient monitoring and chronic care management) and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are becoming more promising than ever.