The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken over almost every sector, and healthcare is no exception. A hospital environment has many moving parts, each requiring its own network and data. The need to manage this flow of information has given birth to the term “smart health.”
What’s Smart Health?
Smart health is not a specific technology but rather the application of advanced digital technologies to healthcare. It goes beyond digital and being connected to fully exploiting artificial intelligence and machine learning, big data and analytics, virtual reality and simulations, 3D printing, blockchain, robotics, and more to empower all players in the healthcare ecosystem.
What Are the Key Concepts of Smart Health?
There are four key concepts of smart health:
- Connectivity: The need to connect devices, data, and people across the healthcare ecosystem.
- Interoperability: The ability for different devices and systems to work together seamlessly.
- Security and privacy: Protecting patient data and ensuring it’s only accessible to authorized personnel.
- Personalization: The ability to tailor health services and treatment to the individual needs of the patient.
What Are the Key Benefits of Smart Health?
Technology Makes Care More Efficient
Smart health improves care coordination and communication while reducing errors and waste. It enables real-time decision-making on the best course of treatment and helps deliver care closer to the patient’s home.
Technology Gives You More Control
Smart health puts patients in control of their own health and well-being by providing them with tools to track their condition, manage their care, and make informed decisions.
Technology Makes Care More Affordable
Smart health can help contain healthcare costs by reducing the need for expensive tests and procedures and preventing avoidable hospital admissions.
Smart Health Facilitates Remote Monitoring of the Patient’s Health
Smart health technologies can be used to monitor the patient remotely. With wearable devices, patients can handle situations more effectively with the guidance of their doctors. Also, the physician gets notified in real-time about the patient’s condition and warning signs, if any.
This remote monitoring can help keep chronic patients out of the hospital, thereby reducing costs and strain on the healthcare system.
Examples of patients’ remote monitoring:
- Glucose Level Monitoring: With IoT-enabled wearables (equipped with sensors), it’s now possible to constantly monitor sugar levels in the bloodstream. The data can determine the right course of action, whether medication or dietary changes.
- Cholesterol Level Monitoring: Like glucose, smart health devices can also monitor cholesterol levels. The collected data can help doctors make better decisions on how to treat the patient.
- Smart Hearing Aid: A smart hearing aid helps users overcome the challenges of hearing loss by providing real-time feedback on loudness, pitch, and other vital parameters. The device also offers features like geo-tagging to keep track of noise exposure and automatic adjustment of sound output.
- ECG Tracking: With an ECG sensor, heart rate and rhythm can be monitored in real-time. The data can detect irregularities and even suggest variations in medication.
Smart Health in Treatment and Surgery
AI-enabled technology is being used for carrying out complicated surgeries with great success. It is also being used to develop new and improved treatments for cancer and other diseases.
Examples of smart health use in treatment and surgery:
- Robotic-Assisted Surgery: Robotics is used in various surgical procedures, such as knee replacement surgery, hip replacement surgery, and even heart surgery. The surgeon controls the robotic arms, which gives them a better view of the operative area and more precision.
- Minimally Invasive Surgery: Minimally invasive surgery is another type of surgery performed with the help of robotics. Small incisions are made in this type of surgery, and robotic surgical instruments carry out the rest of the procedure. This results in less pain and scarring for the patient.
What Does a Smart Health Report Entail
Smart health reports are consolidated health reports generated using data from various sources, such as wearable devices, medical records, and health apps. The reports provide a complete picture of the patient’s health, including vital signs, activity levels, and sleep patterns.
Doctors can use the reports to make better-informed decisions about the patient’s care, while the patient can use them to track their own well-being and health.
5 Examples of Smart Healthcare Devices
To understand what smart health means for IoT as a whole and how it can be used to improve patient care, let’s take a look at 5 examples of smart healthcare devices.
#1. Remote Patient Monitoring Devices
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices are used to collect data about the patient’s condition, like heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and more. The data is then transmitted to the doctor, who can use it to make informed decisions about the patient’s care.
#2. Glucose Monitoring
Glucose monitoring has traditionally been done through finger pricks and blood tests. However, with the advent of smart health devices, it is now possible to continuously monitor glucose levels without invasive procedures. And thanks to IoT, the health risks associated with diabetes can be monitored automatically and constantly.
#3. Smart Inhalers
Smart inhalers are devices that track asthma medication usage and can even provide real-time feedback on the patient’s condition. Health professionals can use the collected data to ensure the patient takes proper medication and, at the same time, check for any side effects.
#4. Ingestible Sensors
Collecting data from inside the human body has always been messy and invasive. However, with the help of IoT, it is now possible to do so using ingestible sensors. These sensors can provide insights into the PH levels, temperature, and even the presence of certain diseases.
#5. Connected Contact Lenses
Connected contact lenses collect healthcare data in a passive, non-intrusive way. The lenses are equipped with micro-cameras and sensors that can track the wearer’s eye movements and take real-time pictures.
Whether it’s to improve health outcomes or serve other purposes, these lenses promise to turn the human eye into a powerful digital interaction tool.
What is the Major Advantage of Smart Healthcare over Traditional Healthcare?
The positive impact of IoT in healthcare is far-reaching. By providing doctors with real-time data, smart healthcare devices can help to improve the quality of care that patients receive. In addition, by reducing the need for invasive procedures, smart health can also help to reduce the risks and costs associated with traditional healthcare.
Finally, by making it easier for patients to track their own health, smart healthcare can empower them to take control of their well-being.
What is the Major Disadvantage of Smart Healthcare over Traditional Healthcare?
One of the disadvantages of smart healthcare is that it can be difficult to secure the collected data. As more and more devices are connected to the internet, the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks increases.
Another disadvantage is that it can be difficult to interpret the collected data. Without the help of a trained professional, patients may not be able to understand what the data means and how to use it to improve their health.
What Is The Difference Between Telehealth and Digital health?
Telehealth is the use of technology to deliver care at a distance. It can be used for things like remote patient monitoring, video consultations, and even diagnostic testing.
Digital health, on the other hand, is the use of technology to improve the quality of care. It includes things like electronic health records, decision support tools, and even connected devices.
What are The Benefits of Digital Health?
Digital health has the potential to improve the quality of care and make it more accessible and affordable. In addition, digital health can help to empower patients by giving them access to their own health data.
What Are The Concerns of Digital Health?
As with any new technology, there are concerns about the security and privacy of digital health data. In addition, some worry that digital health will lead to a loss of human interaction and replace traditional doctors. Only time will tell if these concerns are founded.
What Are Some of the Examples of Digital Health?
Under its umbrella, digital health includes:
- mHealth apps: These can be used to track health data, make appointments, or find a doctor.
- Telehealth: This technology delivers care at a distance. It can be used for things like remote patient monitoring, video consultations, and even diagnostic testing.
- Wearables: These devices are worn on the body and can be used to track health data like heart rate and running and walking steps.
- E-visits: These are virtual appointments with a doctor, where patients can get advice and treatment without necessarily leaving their homes.
- Electronic Medical Records (EMR): These are digital versions of a patient’s medical history, accessible to both doctors and patients.
- Electronic Health Records (EHR): These records are similar to EMRs, but they include data from all of the patient’s healthcare providers, not just their primary care physician.
What are Some Digital Health Apps?
There are digital health apps for all sorts of things, from tracking steps to managing chronic conditions. Here are a few examples:
- CardMedic: Supports communication between patients and doctors and helps patients keep track of their medications.
- Rimidi: Helps patients with chronic conditions to track their symptoms and medications.
- Companions: They say loneliness is a killer, but this app gives patients someone to talk to, even if they’re far from home.
- MyFitnessPal: This app helps users track their diet and exercise and set goals for themselves.
- Siilo: This app is like a secure messaging system for doctors, allowing them to share patient information and consult with each other.
What Are Some Smart Initiatives to Improve Healthcare in Singapore
By increasing government support and funding for digital health initiatives, Singapore has made great strides in recent years to improve healthcare in the country.
Some of the initiatives include:
#1. HealthHub: HealthHub is an online health portal launched in mid-October 2015. The portal is dedicated to helping users manage their health and wellness by providing them with a personal health record and access to health information and resources.
It also allows users to book appointments, schedule reminders, and track their health data.
HealthHub is available on both the web and on mobile devices.
#2. Health AI: the methods in which machine learning algorithms and other cognitive technologies are used in medical settings.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged over the past ten years as the most effective transformative force in the healthcare sector.
There are several possibilities for healthcare organizations to use AI to provide more effective, efficient, and precise interventions to their patients, from diagnosis and risk assessment to treatment technique selection.
Health AI can be used for:
- Population health management
- Optimise performance and operational efficiency
- Clinical decision making
- AI-assisted surgery
- Improve healthcare accessibility
#3. Telemedicine: Telemedicine uses telecommunications and information technology to provide medical care from a distance. It allows patients to consult with doctors, specialists, and other healthcare professionals without travelling to see them.
Telemedicine leverages 5g technology to:
- Provide real-time updates on patients’ health
- Provide high-definition video streaming for consultations
- Monitor vital signs remotely
- Transport colossal data files (like medical imagery) quicker and more reliably
What Are Some Smart Health Training and Certification Programmes in Singapore
- Professional Diploma in Smart Health Leadership: Offered by the Smart Health Centre at the National University of Singapore (NUS), this comprehensive 12-week programme aims to provide healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to spearhead digital health transformation in their organizations.
- Certificate in Digital Health: This is a 3-day certificate course provided at the Singapore Management University (SMU), which aims to provide healthcare professionals with an overview of digital health, and how it can be used to improve patient care.
What is Smart Health Video Consultation (VC)?
Smart Health Video Consultation (VC) is a national initiative to provide patients with easy access to quality healthcare, regardless of their location.
Smart Health VC is available on both the web and mobile devices and allows patients to leverage video conferencing technology in consulting with doctors, specialists, and other healthcare professionals.
How Smart Health Tech Was Used to Combat Covid 19
Singapore retained the smart city lead with the use of tech in combatting the Covid 19 pandemic.
The government had been progressively building up the country’s digital infrastructure and engineering a conducive business environment for many years in support of the Smart Nation initiative.
This allowed for quick and effective responses to the pandemic as the government was able to rapidly develop and deploy digital solutions to support the nation’s fight against the Covid 19 pandemic.
Some of the solutions include:
Ask Jamie Chatbot: A virtual assistant system developed by GovTech to address queries related to the Covid-19 situation in Singapore.
Users can access the chatbot on gov. sg, ministry of health websites, Facebook and Telegram.
SafeEntry: Also developed by GovTech, SafeEntry was a national digital check-in system that logged the name, mobile number, and NRIC of individuals visiting some of the Covid-19 hotspots in the country.
The data collected was used for contact tracing purposes and helped break the chains of transmission of the virus.
VigilantGantry: These are gantries equipped with thermal scanners and artificial intelligence-powered cameras deployed at the entrances of some buildings to screen visitors for fever.