How IoT and Big Data Solutions Transform Digital Healthcare Industry

by Andrew M. on Aug 9, 2022

According to Precedence Research, the global digital health market will reach $1,011.07 billion in 2028. Experts anticipate IoT medical devices market will hit a $203.13 billion value in the same year. Almost exponential growth is mainly due to medical innovation and improving data processing in the healthcare sector.  

The healthcare industry is humongous and complex, divided into many sectors, dealing with massive amounts of data that require strict organization and thorough analysis. With as much as human lives at stake, providers struggle to solve the data-related issues and open new healthcare provision capabilities. 

Big data analytics and the Internet of Things may become silver bullets against all the data access, quality, storage, exchange, and analysis problems. 

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Getting most of the Electronic health records (EHRs)

Electronic health records are a convenient digital tool for patients’ medical data storage and management. According to the US Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, about 86% of healthcare providers in the US have already adopted EHR systems.

However, EHRs lack interoperability, which perplexes the data exchange and hinders the performance of healthcare facilities. Imagine a patient moving to another city or looking for a second opinion on their diagnosis. They risk undergoing unnecessary procedures and paying for doubling tests because the new provider’s EHR system is different and has no means for automatic transfer.

The real-market processes prove that EHR databases should be standardized, moved to the cloud, and safely accessed by various devices and systems. 

Thanks to IoT digital tools like OpenEHR and others, healthcare providers engage in unobstructed data exchange for down-to-earth registration goals and efficient predictive analytics. Medical institutions can analyze the EHRs of millions of patients in seconds. Data-driven decisions allow identifying future trends in patient care, improving care coordination, and eliminating delays and errors in patient treatment.

Saving Lives with the Enhanced Preventive Care and Monitoring Devices

In 2019, CDC issued a statement claiming that preventive care can save more than 100,000 lives annually in the US alone. Sensor data collection opens the way for continuous patient health tracking that enables doctors to identify a disease at an early stage and provide timely, more efficient, and accurate diagnosis and treatment. 

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Digitizing healthcare with IoT wearables 

In conjunction with the Internet of Things, big data analytics enables healthcare providers to switch from a reactive model to a proactive and preventive model of treatment, which can not only improve patient outcomes but also significantly decrease hospital admission expenses.

Another considerable advantage of big data utilizing IoT wearables is real-time alerting. The system monitoring the patient’s heartbeat, blood pressure, sugar, and other indicators will analyze the patient’s condition and immediately notify the hospital if something goes out of the norm. 

Big data solutions in healthcare

Numerous gadgets, from fitness trackers to glucose monitors, conduct continuous monitoring of a person’s vitals and gather statistics, sending them to the cloud in real-time. Collecting and compiling big data for analytics becomes much easier and more effective. 

Enhanced by big data analytics, such devices have huge self-diagnostic potential — wearables and healthcare mobile apps may enable patients to get an automated diagnosis of such common diseases as cold or flu. Thanks to convenient monitoring tools, timely analysis, and comprehensive health reports, patients get much more engaged and interested in leading a healthier lifestyle. First time in history, people can track the direct effect of their actions on their health and potential longevity. 

At the same time, a certain extent of a patient’s self-sufficiency helps healthcare providers improve operations management and optimize workloads to focus on patients who need medical services the most.

Healthcare digital strategy: Combining EHRs, Big Data and IoT Wearables 

Creating a digital strategy in the healthcare industry

Being a part of digital medicine, alerts coming from the IoT monitoring wearables allow patients and doctors to take preventive measures before a condition such as a heart attack, a stroke, or a diabetic shock becomes an emergency. It can significantly reduce the chance of fatalities. 

In severe cases, a wearable device would locate the nearest emergency department and alert them. The ED, in turn, would immediately dispatch an ambulance to the patient’s location. On their way, the ambulance would get the patient’s EHR from the cloud and perform the analysis of the patient’s medical history, laboratory test results, and prescriptions while monitoring the patient’s condition in real-time. It would help the ambulance crew to be best prepared upon arrival and treat the patient’s condition quickly and effectively.

Alerts based on big data analysis of information collected via variables should not only cover stroke/heart attack emergencies scenario. Big data analytic integrations can help detect less tangible changes in the body’s performance and reactions, pointing doctors to check for hard-to-cure diseases earlier. For example, more than 80% of people with pancreatic cancer get diagnosed too late for life-saving treatment because we still don’t have direct tests for early detection. A real-time combination of factors analyzed by modern solutions can nudge doctors in the right direction. 

Prospects of digital transformation in healthcare

Big data analytics and IoT solutions enable the creation of a standardized framework that would serve as a foundation for future health information exchange and analysis. Such a solution will coordinate IoT devices collecting data and establishing a real-time connection between patients and doctors, with big data analytics systems processing the information to help healthcare providers improve their diagnosis capabilities and overall performance. These technologies have the potential to solve many specific problems in the healthcare sector. Here are some extra trends and prospects of digital healthcare transformation:

  • Early cancer diagnoses across the board;
  • Early detection of allergic responses that would reduce risks of anaphylactic shock;
  • Increase in on-demand healthcare controlled by the patients;
  • Reduced medical errors due to big-data analytics;
  • More adaptive staffing of particular healthcare institutions;
  • Introducing AR/VR solutions to digital medicine;
  • More precise insurance solutions;
  • Gamification of healthcare for better patients engagement;
  • Blockchain solutions for better logistics of medical goods and healthcare-related payments.

It is not an exhaustive list of digital trends in healthcare we will see come to reality in the upcoming years, but it is what for sure will change the whole sector as we know it.

Problems and Hazards of the Healthcare Digital Transformation

Challenges of the digital transformation in healthcare

However, digital transformation remains a huge challenge for most countries. Its adoption in the healthcare sector is very limited and chaotic. Here are some major challenges for digital innovation in healthcare:

#1. Old habits die hard. The average age of the biggest strata looking for medical assistance is normally much higher than the average age threshold for easy digitalization acceptance. Management, doctors, assistants, and even patients, are used to the system as is. 

#2. Healthcare digitalization is expensive. In the long run, it reduces the costs for healthcare institutions and patients, helps to see gaps and overspending, optimizes insurance plans, etc. However, here and now, digitalization is not a cheap process with a hard-to-predict return on investment. 

#3. It only works if most of the agents want it to work. As with EHRs solutions, the most significant effect of healthcare market digital transformation will be seen only after at least 50% of stakeholders in the market sign up. For now, many agents employ a “wait and see” strategy to decide whether it is worth it.

#4. The western healthcare system is not interested in disease prevention. It is a statement that can be turned into a whole different article, but, unfortunately, insurance companies, doctors, health institutions, and often even patients are not interested in preventive care. Big Data analysis results can take money out of the system. 

#5. Data protection concerns and regulations. With all the digital fraud and scandals around it, people feel suspicious about IoT devices collecting data and even more about analytics solutions processing it. Seeing these concerns valid, regulators toughen the privacy protection requirements, making it harder for developers and healthcare stakeholders to benefit from digitalization.

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Final Thoughts

To overcome the obstacles and streamline the process, healthcare organizations around the world must join forces and invest resources into the development of a global digital transformation strategy and adopt digitalization standards. This will be a huge step toward creating a global healthcare ecosystem for patient data processing, real-time analysis, and ubiquitous communication to ensure the continuous improvement of global population health.

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Written by

Andrew

Andrew M., Technical Writer at QArea

Andrew is an insatiably curious geek who loves writing about technological innovation, business development, and digital transformation in the globalized world. Throughout more than 5 years of experience as a writer for different media, startups, and tech companies, Andrew has meticulously studied every aspect of the tech industry and loves sharing his knowledge with the international community.