When we talk about IoT, we refer for the most part to the concept of M2M (machine to machine), or rather the connection and interoperability between devices and other machines (servers, other devices, computers, gateways, smartphones, etc.). The continuous evolution of the IoT market and the ever-increasing number of objects integrable with intelligent sensors are making it easier to connect devices to the network for monitoring parameters related to human health, thus opening the way to an IoT concept based on the relations between person and machines (P2M). These new technological scenarios make new business models and process possible.
It is evident that the use of these technologies produces positive effects on well-being by improving the quality of life, whether in the case of illness, disability, advancing age or in cases where it is aimed at achieving improvements in terms of personal well-being (wellness).
Current population statistics show how:
- - Health-related services are increasing in costs;
- - There is an increase in the ageing of the population;
- - There is an increase in the number of diseases diagnosed each year.
In these terms, what technology can do is: making health care more accessible, so as to make the mechanisms of prevention easier, without neglecting all the improvements that the application of the IoT can produce on the quality of the treatments that patients can get.
What are the benefits?
Simultaneous monitoring and reporting
Monitoring through connected devices can save lives in the event of medical emergencies such as heart attacks, asthma attacks and similar events. Through the monitoring of the parameters with devices connected to the smartphone via APP, it is possible to have historical data and other real-time data useful for calculating the health status and transmit everything directly to one's own doctor. The data that can be monitored and communicated to your doctor, regardless of the time and place, relate to blood pressure, oxygen, weight, blood sugar levels (blood sugar) and sometimes ECGs.
Protocols such as Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, Z-WAVE, ZigBee and other modern protocols allow interoperability, machine-to-machine communications, information exchange and data movement in an effective manner. Furthermore, these solutions reduce the costs of assistance due to unnecessary visits.
Tracking & Alerts
Smart devices allow the transfer of vital data and information in real-time to medical specialists in charge of tracking, this happens in order to generate alerts and reports on the patient's health condition and making the intervention timely when necessary or providing preventive treatments.
Some Applications (Use Cases)
Monitoring of patients suffering from arterial hypertension
The Dominican Republic is one of the Latin American countries with the highest rate of newborn and newborn deaths, also due to the number of pregnancies related to young girls. In 2016, it recorded 168 deaths of mothers and 2441 neonatal deaths.
In this circumstance Libelium (a company producing IoT sensors) developed an e-health platform. The platform includes 15 sensors to monitor up to 20 biometric parameters such as pulse, breath, oxygen in the blood, electrocardiogram signals, blood pressure, electromyography signals, glucose levels, galvanic skin response, lung capacity, patient position, airflow, body parameters and noises.
With the aim of monitoring patients with the risk of preeclampsia of arterial hypertension, the Infectologia’s Dominican Foundation uses the device to identify symptoms in patients in various health centres of the Santo Domingo hospital. Through a program called ‘Kangaroo Care’, they saved hundreds of lives of premature babies and mothers.
The data took from the sensors and the blood pressure arrives in real time to the Cloud and to a mobile APP. Subsequently electrocardiogram, oxygen and temperature allow defining the immediate risk of convulsions to be able to assist patients before they take place.
Prevention of asthma attacks of children with sensors monitoring the air quality in play areas
Asthma is one of the most frequent causes of absenteeism in schools and affects the quality of sleep and various activities necessary for the correct growth of children.
The government asked a company (Airlab Rus) to implement and install ten sensors in some parts of the city of Togliatti (Russia), in more vulnerable areas (schools, playgrounds, hospitals). These sensors give the government the opportunity to take the necessary measures to protect citizens. The results are that any indicator did not exceed the maximum possible daily average concentration although there was a clear increase in some periods. The measurements arrived every 10 minutes night and day and the conclusions were that during the periods in which there was more activity of public transport and circulation of vehicles it would have been better to avoid long walks and stay outdoors. Although this conclusion may seem obvious to some, this represents a useful prototype to highlight how data analysis allows making correct predictions, and how this strategy can be applied in various different contexts and expanded where necessary.