Monday 9 August 2021

The IoT Improves Medical Connectivity During the Pandemic

                                                                Image by Frp17580 - Public Domain,

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine, an online publication discussing the latest news in science and technology. She has over four years experience covering stories in the science, technology and industrial sectors.


To say it’s been an unusual year for the medical industry would be an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented health care organizations with their greatest challenge in recent memory, and yet, this has spurred some remarkable innovations. No trend exemplifies this phenomenon as much as medical device connectivity.


The internet of things (IoT) is not necessarily a new technological trend, but its adoption in medicine skyrocketed amid the pandemic. Experts now expect the global medical IoT market to be worth $446.52 billion by 2028, compared to just $71.84 billion in 2020. Already, medical connectivity has reached new heights across the healthcare industry.


Here’s how the IoT has improved medical connectivity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.




Perhaps the most recognizable application of the medical IoT to accelerate amid COVID is telemedicine. While just 43% of health centers were capable of providing telehealth services in 2019, 95% reported using them during the pandemic. Remote patient care is now more accessible than ever, painting a bright picture of the future.


If a similar health crisis should arise in the future, more hospitals will have the resources necessary to provide telehealth care. As a result, they can prevent overcrowding, which plagued many hospitals early in the pandemic. This increased connectivity can also save money for both medical organizations and their patients.


The healthcare industry generates $165 billion in waste every year. Eliminating unnecessary hospital visits through these now more accessible telemedicine services will reduce this waste. Patients will also save money by avoiding high hospital fees from unneeded visits.


Vaccine Supply Chain Visibility


Another way in which medical device connectivity expanded in the pandemic was through supply chain tracking. As vaccines began to roll out to the public, many health care systems used the IoT to track them through the supply chain. These connected logistics networks helped ensure timely, safe vaccine deliveries.


Historically, as many as 39% of vaccine doses go to waste in some areas due to supply chain issues. Given the severity of COVID-19 and the extreme storage needs of its vaccines, minimizing that figure was critical. IoT location and temperature sensors proved to be the answer.


These devices provided real-time visibility into vaccine shipments’ status, enabling faster responses to developing situations. If, for example, a refrigeration system broke, supply chain managers and drivers would know immediately. They could then deliver the shipment to a closer facility, ensuring the vaccines don’t go to waste.


Equipment Tracking


As medical IoT adoption grew, more hospitals used it to keep track of valuable equipment. Hospitals became crowded at the height of the pandemic, often making it a challenge to stay organized and efficient. IoT tracking technologies emerged as an ideal solution, as they can show staff exactly where a piece of equipment is in real-time.


Ventilators, for example, saw skyrocketing demand amid COVID-19, but hospitals often had a limited supply. With IoT-based inventory systems, nurses and doctors could locate any available ventilators immediately. They could then give patients the treatment they need sooner, potentially saving lives.


This increased connectivity can continue to provide value outside of the pandemic. Considering how between 8% and 17% of health care workers have latex allergies, hospitals could use IoT inventory tracking to keep track of non-latex PPE. These workers could then find the equipment they need faster, maintaining efficiency while avoiding potential health issues.


Outbreak Tracing


The ever-expanding medical IoT saw use outside of hospitals and their supply chains, too. IoT connectivity in workplaces, public areas, and other environments provided medical researchers with data to trace COVID-19 outbreaks. This visibility provided more relevant and informative insights into how the virus spread than judging it by hospital visits.


South Korea was one of the first countries to use IoT networks, including people’s phones, to enable in-depth, accurate contact tracing. When the solution led to a significant improvement in COVID cases and deaths, many other nations followed suit. Now that this level of connectivity is more widespread, medical authorities could use it to fight future disease outbreaks.


IoT devices are ideal for outbreak tracing since they can provide a wealth of information without disrupting everyday life. The remote communication features in the devices people use every day can transmit the data medical researchers need. As this connectivity expands, the world’s health care systems can keep a closer eye on emerging medical threats.


The Medical IoT Is Changing the Face of Modern Medicine


Medical device connectivity may predate the pandemic, but it reached new heights amid COVID-19. The extremes many health care organizations faced drove them to accelerate IoT adoption to the point where these technologies are now standard. The medical IoT is now inseparable from the healthcare industry.


These advancements played a crucial role in fighting the pandemic, and now that they’re widespread, they can help prevent future crises, too. As IoT adoption in health care keeps expanding, medical organizations become better equipped to tackle unforeseen challenges.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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