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IoT in Healthcare – A Well-Diagnosed Future

Internet of Things

When we had a candid with Satish Kumar V, CEO at EverestIMS,he notes, “Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is driving a revolution in healthcare”. Whereas, Kiran Zachariah, VP- IoT Business Solutions, Subex emphasized, “Through smart pillboxes, IoT is enabling dosage compliance which in itself is a big problem among patients.”

Also, Lux Rao, Director & Leader – Solutions, Dimension Data India cited, “Companies will continue to invest in creating innovative services and implement IoT within healthcare.”

Below they further manifested on the current healthcare locus and their expertise to help evolve the era of ‘Connected Healthcare’.

How is digital healthcare transforming healthcare?

SK: Healthcare advancements have till now been immense, however most of them have been relegated directly to health requirements. Medical technology has lagged when it comes to embracing the internet and its deep potential. With the coming of the Digital Healthcare, technology now blends the best of both worlds for the benefit of patients.  Digital Transformation in Healthcare encompasses Artificial Intelligence, AR & VR, Block Chain for Secure Data Transfer and much more. It unifies internet and other technologies with medical technology (software and hardware) to create entities that are far greater than the sum of their parts. Things like remote medicine, big data analysis, patient monitoring, preventive medicine and a host of others are now redefining the landscape for healthcare providers and patients alike. All these systems have now evolved into the “Internet of Medical Things” (IoMT).

LR: Technology is playing a transformational role across all sectors. It is not only revolutionizing the pharma and healthcare industry with path breaking solutions like smart pills, smart hospitals, surgical robots and thereby enabling us to live longer and healthier life. The burst of data in all formats, sizes and speeds is becoming a challenge for enterprises to turn them into timely, accurate and actionable insights. Healthcare providers are using emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT to develop innovative, sustainable and flexible solutions to ensure equitable spread of technology in India. Tele medicine, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled medical devices, and blockchain electronic health records are just a few concrete examples of digital transformation in healthcare.  The current technology penetration, growing population, advancing economy, and accelerating healthcare industry are all responsible for the increased demand in digital healthcare. Earlier if a patient had any healthcare concerns they used to rush to the hospital. However, with a growing digital presence, patients now explore the internet for hospital sites, e-mailers to connect to the doctor. Other than this, patients have online access to medical records which they can share with their doctors. The ever-increasing integration of highly diverse technology for data generation in medical, biomedical and healthcare fields is useful. Recognizing the importance of technology-based solutions, the Government of India is designing and developing an API based ecosystem for its flagship health insurance Ayushman Bharat scheme.

KZ: Let us look at a country like India which spans a huge area in terms of geography. When we think of administering healthcare services in rural and remote areas, the challenges are but daunting. From lacking proper surface transportation infrastructure to simply the time taken for a practitioner to visit such places, the problem is but apparent. Through digital means, doctors can pay a virtual visit to patients in no time, get access to their medical records and even do research on the combination of medicines required to best treat a medical problem. This has not just reduced the cost of healthcare administration but has also made life easier for practitioners and patients alike. This saves time, money and resources for all the healthcare participants involved including the government. Overall the economy itself stands to gain through saving resources and through a healthy workforce.

Impact and Scopes IoT Brings in the Healthcare Sector?

KZ: Beyond enabling monitoring and measurement of various parameters related to healthcare, IoT is also helping healthcare service providers keep their equipment in prime condition (with preventive maintenance). IoT is also enabling doctors to study their patients remotely and also probe various parts of the body without having to resort to complex surgical procedures. Through smart pillboxes, IoT is enabling dosage compliance which in itself is a big problem among patients.  These are but a few uses.

SK: The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is the collection of medical devices and applications that connect to healthcare IT systems through online computer networks. Medical devices equipped with Wi-Fi allow the machine-to-machine communication which is the basis of IoMT. These IoMT devices link to cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services, on which captured data can be stored and analyzed. IoMT is also known as healthcare IoT. Its scope spans collecting critical metrics about the patient’s health like Heart Rate, BP, Oxygen, Blood Sugar level, ECG, etc., and then stores this important data on the Cloud which is then shared to relevant authorized personnel like physicians, insurance companies etc.

IoMT’s impact on healthcare is vast in both breadth and depth. It helps in providing continuous monitoring, alerting and reporting where it enables “Real time monitoring and alerting” through connected smart band type devices which help save lives in the event of an emergency like cardiac arrests, sudden ‘Low BP’ and a host of others. The IoT devices collect, report and analyze the data in real-time which eradicates the need to store the raw data. Further, healthcare operations allow organizations to acquire vital healthcare analytics and data-driven insights which speed up decision-making and are often less prone to errors. IoT for healthcare can also be used for research purposes. IoT systems help us to collect a massive amount of data about the patient’s illness which would have taken many years if collected manually. The collected data drives statistical studies which are imperative for medical research. Existing devices are now being updated by IoT by simply using embedding chips of smart devices. This chip enhances the assistance and care that a patient requires.

LR: According to a Nasscom report, globally, the Internet of Thing (IoT) is seeing a meteoric rise  to become a $300 billion industry by 2020 and India will play a crucial part by capturing 20 per cent of the market share in the next five years. The government’s planned investment of about USD 2B+ for 100 smart cities, over the next five years, is expected to be a key enabler for IoT adoption across these industries. In addition, industries such as healthcare, retail, and agriculture are also expected to make significant progress in IoT adoption.

Healthcare today is undergoing a radical shift backed by emerging technology like Internet of Thing (IoT) set to transform and improve access within the industry. IoT’s ability to connect devices and networks can be harnessed to create more streamlined, efficient processes and provide remote monitoring facilities in the healthcare sector. In a country like India, where there is only one doctor for every 11,000 people (WHO recommends a ratio of one doctor for every 1,000 people), adoption of such new-age technologies can play a pivotal role in developing the healthcare ecosystem, enable real time patient access and eventually, reduce the burden on existing healthcare infrastructure.

Comparing the implementation of IoT from a decade ago when it was still in its infancy, to now, most types of devices come with connectivity, including medical equipment that are intelligent and aware of their surroundings (through sensors). Through cloud computing and analytics, these IoT-enabled tech solutions can gather, analyze and communicate real time medical information, including actionable trends to doctors, diagnosticians and healthcare workers. Wearable devices (to monitor pulse, heart and other health data), wearable sensor patches (to gather insights on medical effectiveness, health patterns), sensor enabled mobile devices (to remotely monitor chronic illness patients) and IoT enabled clinical trial solutions (to improve the outcomes of clinical trails and reduce costs) are some of the examples of the technology led innovation in the healthcare sector. Going forward, companies will continue to invest in creating innovative services and implement IoT within healthcare to create lucrative, low-cost digital and device solutions aimed to increase productivity, improve patient outcomes and analysis of data.

Distance is now conquered by Telemedicine

The practice of using IoMT devices to remotely monitor patients in their homes is also known as telemedicine. This kind of treatment spares patients from traveling to a hospital or physician’s office whenever they have a medical question or change in their condition. Remote doctor sessions are also helping many patients skip the queues and distance involved by directly consulting with the doctor over Video Conferencing apps. This also helps in providing medical assistance in remote areas. IoT in healthcare has even reached the operating rooms, the inner sanctum of surgeons. Powered by artificial intelligence, connected robotic devices have already been used for a variety of surgeries. A robot-assisted surgeon gains increased vision and precision thus pushing the limits of laparoscopy and minimally invasive surgeries. Following the surgery, numerous IoT sensors then collect, analyze and transmit data to prevent postsurgical complications. Surgical instruments and devices can also be connected with the video output to provide high-resolution images and record the tiniest details. Once they are automatically saved to a cloud location, other specialists can easily access these records for various purposes including education. The educational value of IoT in healthcare is worth a special mention. All because the educational material based on data collected from IoMT devices offers new platforms for learning which often provide better insight than traditional learning systems.

The gains are manifold with patients benefiting from lower insurance costs, cheaper health monitoring, quick appointment scheduling, sharing of medical records, pre-diagnosis and a host of others. The healthcare providers gain from seamless data flow, direct patient management, enhanced physician efficacy, increased diagnostic accuracy, point-of-care co-ordination, real-time communication and passive care.

Expertise & Solutions in IoT Technologies in the Healthcare Sector?

LR: A major shift is underway in the healthcare industry. It’s moving from a fragmented fee-for-service healthcare model to an integrated outcomes-driven model that’s focused on providing better, more personalised care. Patients, government regulations, and new digital technology are all catalysts for healthcare industry transformation. Providers are under pressure to provide cost transparency to enable consumers to make more active decisions around their care. Online services are being made available to patients to deliver personal health records, to provide personalised care, and to improve preventative and post-acute care practices.

With our expertise, we take a two pronged approach of 1) Improving clinical workers’ efficiency and effectiveness through the use of advanced technology, so healthcare providers can focus on their core business while providing a better experience not just to their patients, but also to their staff and 2) Innovating and providing better technology based alternatives to existing healthcare practices.

Case Study 1) Helping neurosurgeons achieve greatness is what inspires Canadian start-up, Synaptive Medical, to develop pioneering surgical technologies. The cross-disciplinary team of engineers, scientists and business experts work together to improve patient care, and a reliable IT infrastructure is critical in this process. Synaptive needed a solution that would support rapid growth and allow them to focus on their core business. Through our Managed Cloud Platform, we provide Synaptive with a secure and reliable IT infrastructure, enabling them to focus on developing innovative technologies. Through the cloud platform, Synaptive can bring solutions to market faster, expand effortlessly anywhere in the world, access resources when needed, and improve cost-savings

Case Study 2) One of Brazil’s largest hospital networks Hospital Alemao Oswaldo Cruz (HAOC) needed to modernise their entire networking landscape, but was hamstrung by an ageing, legacy network infrastructure that was unable to keep up with the demands of patients and medical staff. To improve the customer experience, HAOC needed to modernise their entire networking landscape which was made possible when HAOC deployed a next-generation networking solution, a new contact centre system, and a virtualised server environment, allowing for increased service availability and better control over the network. Resilient networks and fail-safe data storage has allowed HAOC to scale with ease while providing the best customer experience to their patients and employees.

Case study 3) Artificial Intelligence (AI) diagnosis support solution of our group company NTT DATA Services was able to detect 56 emphysema cases while normal diagnosis without AI detect 17 cases during a recent Proof of Concept (PoC) conducted at the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Center in Pune, India. We also developed a smart ICU system which collects and analyzes several vital signs of ICU patients simultaneously by using Artificial Intelligence (AI). The SmartICU sends doctors and nurses an early alert of which patients are at imminent risk. Predicting possible complications and delivering best supportive care is extremely important to improve an overall ICU survival rate. With the use of emerging technology, healthcare is expected to see huge advancements in use cases such as AI driven diagnostics, personalised treatment, early identification of potential pandemics, and imaging diagnostics, among others.

SK: EverestIMS has engaged with Bionic Yantra to provide the software solution that will operate their product REARS while also managing the hospital and clinical engagement which includes doctors, therapists, patient session management and insurance. EverestIMS products mesh with that of Bionic Yantra to offer an integrated system that benefits both patients and healthcare providers alike.

Bionic Yantra makes products for the specially-abled and less-abled. It offers two specific systems – REARS & a Personal Mobility Device.

Rehabilitation System – The Robotic Exoskeleton Assisted Rehabilitation Systems (REARS) accelerates the rehabilitation considerably (reduction to 1/3rd the time) and enables standard therapeutic procedures. Further the safety harness component eliminates chances of fall.

Personal Mobility Device – Once the patient leaves the hospital environment, the patient (paraplegic / hemiplegic) needs a device to enable him / her to move about within home and perform Activities of Daily Living independently.  It is intended for usage by eligible patients other paraplegics / hemiplegics, post approval by medical staff. This device is under design and development.

With the integration of Everest’s software, the cohesive solution now offers far greater depth of performance and features that would provide deeper insights into data collected from a handicapped person.  The software records information from multiple sessions which is then analyzed and based on the output, provides succinct information to the doctors which helps them make better and more informed decisions and predictions. Using this data, patient specific routines can be created and pre-fed into the system which is then activated at the next session. The use of routines in physiotherapy offers the opportunity to increase the dose, intensity and specificity of rehabilitation. The availability of safe and reliably automated therapy can also facilitate intense practice – at a reasonable cost, as well as continuous challenge during rehabilitation, which is known to accelerate recovery and improve rehabilitation outcomes.

EverestIMS products are also integrated with the Real Time Location System (RTLS) for Patients, Doctors, Staffs and Equipment which help manage the complete inventory of devices, supplies and medicines along with indoor location tracking and medical network integration.

KZ: We are an IoT security solution and services provider. Our role is to secure the entire eco-system including data, networks and other infrastructure components to ensure that IoT continues to offer value to healthcare service providers and their customers. Our solution, Subex Secure works towards protecting IoT deployments from malware, ransomware, crypto miners and other malicious malware used by hackers and developers to exploit weaknesses and for pilfering data or extorting ransom from IoT users.

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Niloy Banerjee

A generic movie-buff, passionate and professional with print journalism, serving editorial verticals on Technical and B2B segments, crude rover and writer on business happenings, spare time playing physical and digital forms of games; a love with philosophy is perennial as trying to archive pebbles from the ocean of literature. Lastly, a connoisseur in making and eating palatable cuisines.

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