Blockchain and IoT: Emerging Technologies in Healthcare

Image Source: forbes.com

Despite all the controversy of health care delivery in America, technology for health care in America is one the best in the world from pharmaceutical research, to medical research, to technical innovation.

Hospitals and medical centers have a tradition of adopting new technology nearly as soon as it’s been released. Today, we see the application of the Internet with devices connected to the internet in patient care. There a numerous Internet of Things (IoT) in health care settings from patient examination rooms, to the emergency room, to the hospital bed.

IoT Technology

IoT technology is available to keep patients better connected to doctors and health care staff with remote monitoring devices. Medical providers, such as Kaiser Permanente, offer virtual visits to their remote patients who find it difficult to drive long distances for basic medical checkups.

Mike Thomas, writing for Built In says that  “IoT healthcare devices facilitate the care of chronic disease; IoT automates patient care workflow; it quickly culls, analyzes data and disseminates data to keep everyone on the same page; it reduces inefficiency and errors; it optimizes the pharmaceutical manufacturing process, which can result in lower drug prices; it maintains quality control and manages sensitive items while they’re in transit; it can even lower healthcare costs by streamlining the overall process.”

IoT devices have a range of applications that monitor’s patient’s status, comfort of a room, and can be applied to any device with a sensor that transmits data. Various therapeutic devices related to medications, activity and health for patients with chronic conditions—can be connected to the Internet so that staff working in another room, or remotely can monitor patient care. Or devices that pair a mattress with a sleep and environment sensor to an app. It collects and analyzes data to send to your smartphone. You can then determine your ideal sleep temperature. (Thomas)

Here’s a list of devices that are, or can be IoT connected:

      • Remote temperature monitoring for vaccines
      • Medical data transferring tools
      • Air quality sensors
      • Drug effectiveness tracking
      • Vital signs data capturing
      • Sleep monitor
      • Medication refill reminder technology
      • Remote care biometrics scanners
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        Source: Built In
Image Source: beca.com

IoT – Blockchain

The tradition of healthcare providers quickly adopting technology continues with leading healthcare organizations adopting blockchain use case application for the IoT to improve patient care and healthcare outcomes. While healthcare has adopted IoT for some time, the addition of blockchain connecting IoT is a new approach.

According to Michael Walker, when combined, IoT and blockchain—especially when paired with artificial intelligence and machine learning—provide even more possibilities for the healthcare industry and patient care.

While IoT collects a good deal of data, much of it is sensitive and protected data. Therefore, security and confidentiality is one of the highest priorities a healthcare provider is concerned about. And many companies have come up short when attempting to protect it.

With blockchain IoT use cases—robust blockchain data protection and integrity is now available and can help secure data obtained from IoT devices. Patients are now in control of who obtains the data and for why it was accessed.

IoT is helping to improve remote patient monitoring. An example cited by Walker is that of a Swiss med-tech startup. The foundation is “using blockchain technology to facilitate clinical trials, protect medical data, and make sure users know how their data is being used.”

One significant issue in healthcare, is the protection of a patient’s medical record. With blockchain, now pertinent and sensitive data can be protected when it’s collected from the IoT. Patients and medical staff can be assured that patient data is being used appropriately. “Blockchain technology in healthcare not only makes medical devices more difficult to hack, but they also can show a detailed record of when another party accesses your data.”

Conclusion

People have become doctors, nurses, x-ray techs, lab techs, and more to meet the healthcare needs of hurting and ailing people. Where real people are in need and suffering. By combining blockchain and IoT technology has the ability to help those with chronic diseases, assist in research for future treatment options, and to assist patients in full recovery of whatever ails them.

There are two categories for blockchain IoT application in health care delivery:  patient care, and support operations. In this article I focused on patient care.  However, there are many more opportunities of blockchain to provide healthcare solutions from health insurance to supply chain.

 

Samuel H. is an author, writer and speaker with over twenty years in the educational technology sector.

Contact Samuel

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