If any industry is going to change completely because of IoT (Internet of Things) this will be undoubtedly Health Care. The way we think about patients, how doctors communicate with them and how chronic illnesses will be treated won’t be recognizable in 10 years. Here you have 9 of the most amazing things future will bring us.
1. SMART GLASSES
Yes, we have been hearing about Smart Glasses for a long time now and they never seem to become a real thing. But as we find more and more useful applications for them we will see that we won’t be able to live without them.
Virtual Reality has been used on rehabilitation projects, immersing patients in their nightmare landscapes. Results for trauma recovery, like ex-combatants, people fearing of heights or victims of sexual assault, improve radically using virtual reality environments.
Regarding Augmented Reality, applications in hospitals for doctors and nurses are clear. Banish paper from your desk, patients data will be uploaded into the hospital’s intranet and any doctor will be access patients data through their smart glasses directly to their eyes. No more lowering heads to check papers, doctors will be able to keep eye contact with patients while at the same time receive all necessary information. This will also be a great help for trainees that are still not familiarized with specific processes. They will be able to use smart glasses to crib answers!
2. WRIST DEVICES
No matter if it is a watch, a bracelet, a fitness band, all of them will bring new possibilities to track our health. A device attached to your wrist will be able to check your pulse, your temperature and your stress levels. This constant companion will be with us all day long checking and data gathered will be sent to our computer, mobile phones or even to our doctors.
But Wrist devices are not only passive instruments. Despite the little screen space, important notifications, alerts or advices to improve our health (It’s time to drink a glass of water!) will be implemented to be our personal health coach.
The down side of Wrist Devices is that for the moment, they need to be connected to a smartphone so it will be necessary to carry two different devices. Any ideas on this?
3. TRACKING DEVICES
Families with Alzheimer parents or hospitals attending senile patients or lively children deal daily with problems locating patients. The IoT flux of information, allows instant communication so tracking devices will be able to solve this problems and rapidly alert people in charge.
Wearables will improve both assisted living and independent living for elderly people. They will solve two problems: active use and embarrassment. Current systems need the patient to actively use them though this is not always possible. New devices will be small and easy to install: little parches on the skin, inside shoes or even in the shape of beautiful jewellery. Elderly people don’t want to be stigmatized with tags or pendants that instantly tell about their condition. New designs and fashionable approaches to wearables could break some prejudices about tracking devices.
4. BIOMETRIC SENSORS
Is possible to control staff access to specific areas? Biometric sensors could be used as identification telling who is who and avoiding unauthorised personnel inside restricted facilities. Hospitals will benefit in terms of vigilance and patients security.
Hospitals all around the world are progressively implanting tablets among their personnel. Though initial resistance to change and heavy costs make the process painful, in the long run data connectivity and instant access to patients symptoms and previous treatment increase productivity and reduces human errors related with loss of data. Patients will be also able to instantly transmit their needs and nurses will receive the information in their tablets. Less time will be this way consumed coming and going from nurses posts to rooms and urgent needs will be more efficiently solved.
6. POSTURE SENSING DEVICES
How can IoT help reducing nurses sick leaves? Some companies are working on posture sensing uniforms that will alert users when they are not maintaining a correct posture. This could be applied to our backs when sitting long hours or to our whole body when lifting a patient. Nurses and doctor’s health are also valuable assets that the future health care world will have into account. Sports professionals could also benefit from this posture sensing devices to improve their swing when golfing or their fosbury flop technique among thousands of other applications.
Digital workers, as they are beginning to be called, will monitor different aspects of their performance and health through a myriad of clever devices. This image opens a strong debate regarding privacy, insurance policies and security, still heavy subjects waiting for a firm regulation.
7. BRAIN ACTIVITY TRACKING
Assisted living, as we described before will benefit tremendously from IoT Solutions, but specially paralysed patients could improve their lives dramatically. Illnesses like ALS bring patients to a complete dependence from others while their brains are still awake and sharp.
Initiatives like Emotiv by Accenture and Philipps, work on a technology that allow ALS patients to communicate through their eyes, voice and brain activity. Emotiv is awearable that interprets patient’s brain activity and small gestures translating it into communication. Though each device needs to be calibrated for each patient’s situation, the solution will be cheaper and easier to implement that current eye tracking solutions.
8. SMART CLOTHES
Imagine wearing a T-shirt that lights up when your mood swings, when you are feeling uncomfortable or dizzy. Applications are still in their infancy, but smart clothes are already being manufactured and sometimes… 3D printed! Smart Fitness T-shirts can already track your sports performance, the intensity of your training or the quality of your sleep.
If you want to learn in detail what is going on in the Smart Clothes market, you should take a look to this amazing report by wearable-technologies.com
9. REMOTE CARING
Ebola. This is the word that triggered a research program at Massachusetts General Hospital to minimize contagion risks during pandemic crisis. Data shared by Julian Goldman during his conference at IoT Solutions World Congress showed that IoT could easily help to lessen contagion among health care professionals. When a patient is isolated and needs treatment, a nurse or doctor uses a protective suit designed to avoid exposure. Taking this suit on and off takes around 20 minutes. If not done correctly, contagion is very likely to happen. Besides, in case of emergency, patients won’t receive treatment on time while their doctors are suiting up.
This is just an example about how IoT Solutions could track patients’ evolution and even medication minimizing the necessity of a person coming in and out the room. Experiments for the moment are taking place in hospitals, but the future for better health care in areas without enough medical professionals could benefit from these ideas.
Still curious about IoT Solutions and the future of wearables? See more examples visiting UNICEF Wearables for Good.