Telemedicine (also called telehealth) is transforming healthcare. Originally envisioned as a way to remotely diagnose and treat rural populations that lack specialized medical professionals, telemedicine is connecting patients everywhere with providers and caregivers. Patients are getting more control over when and how they get healthcare and more peace of mind because they are being monitored reliably.
What’s changed? The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a reality, often running on Narrowband, the network optimized for it. IoT is connecting patients, smart medical devices, laptops, tablets, phones and wireless sensors with medical professionals.
Example: a vital sign monitor and other bedside devices communicate via IoT with a home medical station, allowing a doctor or nurse to check the patient’s condition including compliance with their medication program.
IoT represents a new model for healthcare, involving tablet-based gateways that can access apps to transmit patient data securely to a provider doing remote diagnosis as well as to the medical device manufacturer or other entity supporting the patient’s treatment. IoT-based connectivity supports a wide variety of functions such as user authentication, software updates, security, payments and information about medical and treatment history, care plans and prescriptions.
Telemedicine via IoT has potential to improve the health of patients with chronic illnesses, a major cause of rising healthcare costs.
IoT promises to facilitate medical device interoperability, better treatment decision making via analytics, and faster scalability. Meanwhile, on the horizon: 5G, a unified framework for connectivity that will accelerate development of IoT-based telemedicine—and high definition video for better communication between patient and doctor.
IoT, optimally running on Narrowband, is providing the natural next step for telemedicine to move into the healthcare mainstream. Medical devices that have Internet addresses and can generate data for tracking, analysis, and action promise a future of better care at lower cost.