The Internet of Things (IoT) has found its way into almost every industry, and the healthcare field is no exception. The ability to connect medical devices to larger networks has provided healthcare professionals with new insights regarding how devices are used as well as changing how a care plan is maintained. Whether it is wireless monitoring devices or connected smartphone apps, IoT is changing how healthcare is managed across the nation.
Wearable, Wireless Technology
Devices used in medical facilities and home healthcare solutions have become commonplace. Instead of being chained to larger pieces of equipment, those receiving care can appreciate greater freedom and increased mobility. Information can be provided in real time, allowing simplified monitoring of patients in the ICU as well as those managing chronic conditions at home.
Emergency devices can alert medical professionals as soon as assistance is needed. They can even provide a way to communicate with a physician immediately to help assess the situations and provide advice to those in the most need.
Fitness bands are one of the most common pieces of wearable technology, allowing users to monitor their activity levels and other pertinent information, such as heart rate. Information can be synced wirelessly with the user’s computer, smartphone, or tablet allowing for instant access and analysis.
The Gray Zone of Wearable Technology
The potential use of wearables doesn’t end with fitness. Health insurance companies are looking for ways to plug into the data to monitor the activities of those participating in their plans. That could mean that in the near future, people who exhibit good behavior through these trackers may receive benefits, such as reduced premiums. But those that don’t may face rising costs.
The biggest question about these goals is issues of privacy. While sharing information with your doctor may lead to better care, providing that same data to insurers (which are ultimately private businesses) make many uneasy. Those who lead an especially healthy lifestyle may feel the benefits outweigh the risks, but many others fear their insurance costs could rise based solely on the results gathered from wearable technology devices.
To make the matter more complex, insurers could reevaluate premiums on an almost daily basis. That means making (or missing) a workout goal or other metric could immediately impact your healthcare costs. With technology companies looking to create wearables that can constantly measure metrics like heart rates, body temperature, and even glucose levels, the amount of data that can be made available to insurers is only growing.
What are the implications of wearable tech in healthcare?
Since cyber security and privacy is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, maintaining robust security measures are required to prevent sensitive information from being accessed. Additionally, some devices are vulnerable to hacking attempts, posing a risk to patients that rely on these devices to maintain their health or even save their lives.
As these devices become more capable, and more industries become interested in collecting the data, the higher the risk to personal privacy. For these solutions to be effective while maintaining safety, care must be taken to ensure that everything is properly secured as more medical devices join the IoT.
Furthermore, as companies collect this information these are some questions that need to be answered:
- How will the information be used?
- Will the data be used to discriminate again people that cannot afford higher quality devices?
- Where is the line between doctor/patience privilege and healthcare information access?
Finding professionals who specialize in these cutting edge devices can help ensure all of the proper precautions are taken when developing or implementing new solutions.
Are you looking for IT professionals to join your team?
If you need IT professionals to help you take advantage of everything that connected devices have to offer, Solving IT is an expert in technology-based recruitment. Contact us and see how a connected-device expert can help your facility thrive.