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iot e medicina

IoT and medicine: the steps forward, the future solutions

The acronym Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a series of technologies that enable objects to communicate with each other via the Internet and the Cloud.

Thanks to these technologies, it is possible to connect any type of device defined as 'Smart' to the network, with the aim of monitoring, controlling and remotely transferring information and data to it to enable it to perform certain actions.

In everyday life, such technologies are widely used in the field of home automation and wearable devices, but in recent years the potential of IoT has also found wide application in the medical and health sector.

This is why we talk about the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) or Healthcare Internet of Things (HIoT). But what is it exactly? Let's see in this article.

How IoT creates value in medicine

In the healthcare sector, the IoT is a valuable and increasingly indispensable resource! It facilitates the management, monitoring and constant control of in-patients, as well as patients undergoing treatment and therapy at home, thanks to the information provided by all devices connected to the network and the Cloud.

From IoT, we have moved on to IoMT, a phenomenon that offers considerable added value in medicine because it is able to overcome any physical or logistical barriers, making it possible to provide medical assistance and transfer medical care and treatment to the patient's home.

Patients can continue their treatment at home or receive remote assistance in the comfort of their own home. Thanks to connected medical devices, healthcare professionals can monitor and assist the patient remotely at any time, keeping parameters such as temperature, blood pressure or blood sugar under constant observation.

The objective of this new frontier of medicine is to offer medical assistance and to return a period of treatment and convalescence as serene as possible to the patient. This can only be achieved by aggregating and collecting a whole series of data in real time, which allows us to assess, even remotely, the patient's state of health and intervene promptly if necessary.

Thanks to the IoMT, for example, it is possible to provide a newly discharged patient with wearable or external devices that will collect a whole series of information that will then be sent to a software program through which doctors can assess his or her health condition. Using specific algorithms, the data is analysed on a daily basis and, in the event of any negative parameters, the software generates immediate alerts to the treating medical staff.

The result is a completely new form of medicine, in which constant monitoring and rapid intervention are the two main prerogatives. Patients are able to face treatment and examinations with greater peace of mind, while doctors have more information and can assess their patients' condition in greater detail.

If we wanted to summarise the main advantages of the IoT, we could summarise them as follows:

  • reducing waiting times in hospitals;
  • management of health personnel through instant access to aggregated data;
  • simpler drug management procedures;
  • increased rates of positive treatment outcomes;
  • more cost-effective healthcare;
  • prevention of medical error;
  • better patient experience.

3 IoT applications currently used in medicine

Ma quali sono le applicazioni reali dell’IoMT in ambito medico? Sono tante le soluzioni già in uso, ma altrettante sono ancora in fase sperimentale; in ogni caso oggi le potenzialità dell’Internet delle Cose sono infinite! Ecco le tre più importanti applicazioni di queste tecnologie in ambito sanitario.

#1 Monitoraggio e controllo dei pazienti

Through so-called smart bracelets, and many other dedicated devices, it is possible to constantly monitor a patient's vital parameters and condition. These technologies allow data to be collected on a patient's position, falls, blood pressure levels or heart rate, so that a patient's state of health can be constantly monitored after hospitalisation or a specific operation, increasing his or her safety and giving doctors a more reliable view of the effects and results of treatment/intervention.

#2 Continuous diabetes monitoring

The treatment of diabetes is one of the fields in which IoT is most widely used. In particular, a special device called the 'Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)' has been developed to support diabetics in constantly monitoring their blood glucose levels by taking timely readings at regular intervals. Another very effective device is the so-called 'smart pen', a smart device that automatically records the time, amount and type of insulin injected, but also advises on the basis of the recorded parameters when it is the right time to inject.

#3 Automated insulin delivery

Also in the area of diabetes treatment, another effective IoT technology is an automatic insulin delivery system that differs from the previous CGM in that, in addition to measuring the amount of glucose in the blood, it also automatically delivers the insulin itself, thus closing the loop.

Cloud-based remote control and monitoring

Telemonitoring and remote control are two important solutions to support 'traditional' medicine. Thanks to the potential of the Cloud, all information and data collected by the various devices connected to the network can be saved, consulted and downloaded at any time by the medical team. All these activities fall within the scope of telemonitoring; when remote intervention is used to control and give a command to an IoT device, we speak of remote control

It is the Cloud that makes it possible to remotely control and monitor a patient's condition without the patient being physically present in the medical facility.

This is a very important opportunity in the medical field, which offers great advantages to doctors, but especially to patients. The latter indirectly become an active part of diagnosing and monitoring their health conditions!

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