Healthcare and IoT: What Does 2021 Have in Store?

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1Q 2021 | IN-6031

Healthcare sectors globally have been under significant strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to be under such strain until the vaccination is completely rolled out. The pandemic has caused many discussions regarding what the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare can offer. These include remote patient monitoring and remote asset tracking, telemedicine, robotics, and the use of electronic wearables.

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Healthcare Challenges: What Are They and How Can They Be Solved?


There have been many technological advancements that will improve healthcare services, for example, from the use of video-based appointments and diagnosis to the ability to perform remote surgeries. A variety of solutions has been created to tackle many challenges, such as the availability of assets and the location of these assets, that can be crucial in critical instances. And now, due to the pandemic, overcrowded hospital wards and overworked staff makes nurses’ and doctors’ jobs difficult from the get-go. Wireless solutions for asset management and remote patient monitoring will enable staff to balance their workloads.

Wireless solutions can be used to track assets—including beds, ventilators, wheelchairs and so on—within the hospital grounds. A real-time map can be created, permitting wireless trackers to locate equipment, increasing visibility and controls for all connected assets—an ideal situation when working under the pressure of a global emergency such as COVID-19.

Remote MonitoringAllow It For Your Health


Currently, healthcare systems are better suited for health insurance providers; however, with the use of IoT solutions these systems can become better suited for patients instead. The year 2020 saw an increase in the demand in telemedicine. Throughout the global lockdowns, in-person clinical care wasn’t considered essential, so all healthcare service resources went toward fighting the virus. This meant that a patient’s medical needs had to be moved online, and so the healthcare sector was one of many sectors in the world that switched to remote working. Telehealth and telemedicine enable users to get their care wherever patients are based and at their convenience.

Now, initial online assessments and appointments along with general patient monitoring can take place remotely. Internet-connected blood pressure cuffs, scales, glucose meters, and thermometers will all enable healthcare professionals to monitor their patient’s vital information, a requirement for treatment. In addition to these Internet-connected devices, wearable devices are also evolving. The newest Apple Watch Series 6 offers the ability to sense blood oxygen levels and sleep data, providing the data that clinicians need to work.

5G Is Pushing Telemedicine Further


Aspects of 5G—especially ultra-reliable low latency communication—that have been standardized in 3GPP Release 16 where enhancements and new standardized aspects for 5G have been made are well suited to critical applications that require a low latency of one millisecond. This means that telemedicine can expand to include remote operating via the use of robotics due to low latency. At the current time, telehealth is limited as it requires a network with ultra-reliability, high speeds, wide bandwidths, and low latency to be supported fully so that services can be fully employed.

Once this aspect has been fully utilized, it will ease the pressures on healthcare staff, especially while the pandemic continues. This means that those hospitals who have the supplies required for robotic operating will be able to use their staff for those patients that have COVID-19, and it will mean that required operations can still proceed.

In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the introduction of 5G enhances the telemedical capabilities as a whole, it also means that the same level of care can exist while also reducing the risk of exposure to medical staff, especially with remote patient monitoring. Ultimately, 5G will both further enable and enhance the telemedicine world—highly desired in the current state of healthcare services globally.



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