“Internet of Things” the future of health diagnostics

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Increase in population and environmental degradation has led to sedentary lifestyles, associated with a number of diseases and lack of physical activity. Internet of things is becoming an increasingly growing topic of interest in both workplace and outside. Internet of Things is a concept that not only has the potential to impact how we live but also how we work. Internet of things can be described as a collection of inter-linked sensors which involves connection and integration of devices that monitor the physical parameters such as temperature, pressure and motion. A lot of complexities may arise when referring to the term “internet of things” due to their widespread applications. Wearable devices are now at the heart of every discussion related to the IoT.

First, of its kind, IoT initiatives began in 1999 at the MIT, which was focused on the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices in supply chain processes. However, it took 15 years to develop and scale its applications to various segments. Today it is estimated that 20 billion or so IoT devices are in use, connected through the Internet albeit this being a small percentage of the total potential. The activities to integrate, relate and take action that features on the IoT devices are at an early stage and are dominated by health, wellness and activity tracking devices.

In the domain of health and fitness, the Internet of Things has the potential to reshape a variety of consumer environments. Wearable activity trackers and the related industry of tracking physical and health activities are on the rise. These devices are typically mounted on the wrist or ankle to track steps taken, stairs climbed, sleep hours and distance travelled. There are some other devices which detect and monitor pulse, blood glucose level and other physiological parameters also.  These devices promise to accurately monitor and analyze health and fitness activities on a continuous and real-time basis. However, integration of the data collected with the IoT ecosystem is complex and considered insecure. Data collected from IoT devices, including, employee wearables and patient monitoring devices will enable the industry to hasten the transformation to the digital world. This, in turn, will help in cutting down healthcare costs and improve patient experience and outcomes.

There are no leading vendors in the market to exercise full control over standards in even specific domains of the IoT such as health activity tracking. No government organization has announced any specific standards for health activity tracking thus far. A lot of devices are entering the market as broadband internet services have become widely available resulting in a decrease in the cost of connecting these devices.

Current studies indicate that ownership of wearables among users in China, South Korea, the UK, Brazil and the US has doubled in the past year. However, the market is in the early stages of expansion. In the United States, the highest contributing country to the market, the majority of the existing users are adults in the age bracket of 25-34. Around 24% of the new users who had adapted wearables are aged 15-24 old.

A recent study by IBM estimates that four million patients across the globe will remotely monitor their health conditions by 2020. Over the coming years, patient monitoring devices will improve resulting in a significant increase in the global IoT healthcare market. IoT enabled connectivity within hospitals is on the rise and is expected to increase by more than 3.02 billion diagnostic tests over the next 5 years. The acceptance of Internet of Things (IoT) networks is on rapid acceleration and it is anticipated that IoT will contribute significantly to the way that health diagnostics are performed throughout the globe.

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