Internet-of-Healthcare

Internet of Healthcare: curse or cure?

date: 27 September 2016
reading time: 3 min

The Internet of Things (IoT) is able to connect numerous devices and locations through the internet, and similarly, the Internet of Healthcare uses various forms of telemedicine and health IT to connect patients in homes and at the hospital.

With more and more medical devices becoming digitally enabled, the Internet of Healthcare is on the rise – but what are the pros and cons of interconnected medicine?

+ Improved care of the elderly

With ageing comes immobility. By developing healthcare that can be used in the home, the elderly will have access to healthcare without going to hospital or a GP surgery. Elderly patients will, therefore be able to have access to healthcare wherever they are, putting patients and their families at ease.

+ Easier access to specialists

Alongside healthcare in the home, there has been an increase in the number of healthcare kiosks. Public healthcare kiosks reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and hospitals by allowing the public to talk to a doctor quickly, without queuing. There has also been an increase in phone and webchat diagnosis, for patients that are not able to visit a doctor in person.

+ Remote treatments

The Internet of Healthcare will allow patients to receive treatment in their own home. Remote treatment will lead to a reduction in the amount of patients attending hospital, and will consequently reduce pressure on hospital and GP staff.

+ Myriad of medical robots

There are various types of medical robots that can perform different healthcare tasks. From surgical robots that can assist during complex procedures to routine task robots than simply cut down on human labour in administering medicine to patients, these machines could revolutionise the delivery of care both at the hospital and at home.

For all its potential benefits, however, scepticism and mistrust still permeate the conversation about the digitisation of healthcare…

– Smart machines failures

As machines, the products of the Internet of Healthcare can have faults and failures that will need to be rectified by humans. For example, if a robot has a fault during a procedure or whilst looking after a patient, the patient will be at risk and the provider will be liable.

– Lack of human touch

Robots and machines lack human ‘touch’ and empathy. Patients may find them too mechanical as they cannot provide the communication that a human can have with another human.

– The elderly not able to adapt to the smart robots

The elderly, or any patient, may find it hard to adapt to robots and other products of mechanical healthcare. This could lead to communication errors and complaints about the healthcare provided.

– Data leaks

The Internet of Healthcare is vulnerable to hacked by humans or other machines, or the system may have a fault that will leak data. This could lead to data leaks that put the patients’ confidential information at risk.

Although the Internet of Healthcare is not currently used in the widespread community, it’s set to expand rapidly in years to come. The development of the Internet of Healthcare will result in personal care devices and robots in many homes, able to offer improved remote treatment to patients. Improved bio-technology and engineering will also be developed, with the patient’s wellbeing at the forefront of the development process.

Regardless of the positives and negatives, the Internet of Healthcare is coming. With the ‘apple a day’ mentality fast becoming a thing of the past, it’s connected medicine and smart machines that will pave the way to a healthier future.

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