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IoT in Healthcare: Taking it to the next level

We live in a hyperconnected world. Faster connectivity, more powerful processors in smaller form factors and reduction in costs, has seen rising usage of sensors, or sensor devices; at any one time, any where in the world, there are a number of machines ‘speaking’ to each other.

One popular example is the Smart Home. With personal voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, consumers can play music, set alarms, play audiobooks, provide real-time information via voice interaction. Consumers can also use Alexa to control several smart devices like wearables and earphones, phones, tablets, televisions and media boxes, smart speakers and more, in the home.

It all seems like magic, but all this automation and controlling of smart devices in the home, is possible because they are all connected via Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

Why all these sensors?

The Internet of Things (IoT) market is anywhere between USD3.2 billion to USD30 trillion, depending on who you talk to. And is it still growing.

In any case, the figures and numbers are compelling and it is no wonder given the digital nirvana that most industries are aspiring towards. According to Fusionex International’s New Technologies VP, Raju Chellam, the promise of IoT can help free the workforce from mundane jobs, because it enables automation of simple tasks and processes.

Growing concurrently with this, is the number of IoT devices or connected devices around the world; Gartner places it at 20.4 billion units in three years’ time.

In Malaysia specifically, IDC’s Pranabesh Nath, said that organisations are already seriously considering digital transformation technologies like IoT to attain macroeconomies of scale in the next 3 to 4 years. This ultimately could change the way that organisations operate.

IoT in healthcare

According to IDC, IoT use cases that will take centrestage for 2018 in Malaysia, are connected vehicles, insurance telematics, smart buildings and personal wellness space. In this country, the IoT market is already worth USD700 million.

And on top of personal wellness that has become of popular because of wearables that track health data, healthcare is slowly coming to the forefront, as one of the industries that automation of processes could bring immense benefit to.

When a multi-facility hospital in Asia, found itself swamped and unable to cope with various types of medical instruments and appliances, as well as complexity of patient cases, Fusionex stepped in with a solution that brought together all patients records into a single central personalised database. With all these information located in one place, doctors were able to derive better insights, prioritise cases according to criticality, and ultimately prescribe more targeted treatments for their patients, in a more timely manner – within 30 minutes.

When various medical instruments and appliances were connected, it enabled recording of machine usage, cost management, reduction of misuse, and overall increase in staff efficiency levels.

This is just one example of Fusionex GIANT’s IoT offering, which is also cloud-enabled, thus equipped to scale and expand when businesses grow into new locations, or when more assets are acquired.

Of note, is its data integration feature, thanks to its ability to connect to multiple devices of different forms and factors, due to the Fusionex solution supporting a variety of connectivity protocols.

Connectivity use cases can be taken further to include footfall sensors that detect the number of patients and help with allocation of nursing resources, wearable communication devices, and even alarms on medicine bottles which send reminder alerts when it’s time for medication.

The solution also enables remote tracking of machine performance, with real-time reporting via multiple mobile devices.

Caution

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, cautioned about the security risks of IoT services. But, it also recognises the benefit of IoT, stating that the increased use of wireless technologies and software in medical devices can also offer safer, more efficient, convenient and timely healthcare delivery.

Such is the significance of wireless tech and IoT, that FDA has announce it will continue to work with manufacturers and healthcare delivery organisations, as well as security researchers and other government agencies, to develop and implement solutions to address cybersecurity issues.

The IoT wave is here and it is crashing into other areas besides healthcare. Gartner predicts global cities increasing IoT investments by USD97 billion from 2015 to 2019.

This spending will likely go into the various ecosystems that drive a city and day-to-day living for its population, like smart transportation, connected homes, smart infrastructure, and last but not least, smart hospitals.




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