The Application and Relationship Between Heart Failure Readmission and the Internet of Things

The Cost of Heart Failure Readmission continues to be on the rise and as such a huge problem for healthcare organizations and for the patients having to be readmitted just shortly after they are discharged to go home. There are strict quotas in place that charges healthcare organizations financial payment if they don’t meet a certain quota of reduced readmissions, as such this means extra cost to healthcare organizations.

Not only do they have to deal with the medical cost of readmitting patients and treating them again for sometimes the same particular condition, but they also have to pay the readmission related fines bestowed upon them. With the advancement of technology in healthcare, there has been growing interest and desire of technology companies to invent and apply technology and systems that solve key pain points in the healthcare industry.

So it’s no doubt that healthcare organizations are looking to use technology to tackle the problem of heart failure readmission. One such technology that can be used is The Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things also referred to as IoT, is the use of electronic devices that capture or monitor data and are connected to a private or public cloud, enabling them to automatically trigger certain events. There are many real-world applications of this technology already such as Automatic Garage doors triggered by proximity sensors in a car or remote controlled from mobile devices or house thermostats that self-adjust based on collected data of the homeowners’ preferences and schedules.

The Internet of things technology is being used in several industries such as the automotive industry, the energy industry, many consumer-facing industries and of course, the healthcare industry. The use of the Internet of Things in the healthcare industry has led to certain breakthroughs and have made it easier to give and receive care. Thus, healthcare providers and patients alike seek to embrace this technology wherever possible.

Healthcare Applications of The Interner of Things

Smart Beds

Smart beds in hospitals are a useful technology that definitely makes giving and receiving care a lot easier. Smart beds are patient beds that can self adjust to meet the comfort needs of the patient. The can also adjust to provide the appropriate level of support and pressure need by the patient and set by the physician or nurse. A smart bed can also inform doctors and nurses if a patient is trying to get up or if it’s occupied. Thus doctors and nurses can track patients and it can be a tool to monitor problem patients.

IoT Medical Devices

There are many devices that can be connected to the internet and used to track the state of patients. Examples of these devices are fetal monitors, electrocardiograms, temperature monitors, blood glucose levels monitors etc. These devices are instrumental in delivering real-time data about the state of a patient to the doctors, nurses, or patient care team of that particular patient.

Medication Dispensers

Medication dispensers automatically upload data and information tot he cloud when medication is not taken or dosage is missed. These indicators when uploaded to the cloud automatically notifies and informs the doctors, nurses, and care team of that patient that a dosage has been missed. For heart failure patients who have just been discharged, taking their medication is critical to their continued recovery. Thus this device can be used to monitor them closely thus helping reduce the likelihood of them being readmitted and reducing the overall heart failure readmission rate of the healthcare organization.

Challenges of The Internet of Things Technology in Healthcare

As with most things, the internet of things technology and its application in healthcare is not free of criticisms. Some of the major concerns raised with the application of this technology are the privacy issues. Opposers point out that the technology is too invasive on privacy with little control of what’s being uploaded to the cloud. Another challenge is that the cloud could be to hackers and data breaches which puts the privacy of patients and perhaps their safety in jeopardy.

Challenges of IoT in healthcare

Internet-of-things technology implementations have raised numerous concerns about personal data privacy and security. While many of today’s devices use secure methods to communicate information to the cloud, they could still be vulnerable to hackers.

For example, pacemakers can be hacked into and tracked thus compromising the location and safety of important individuals who need to stay relatively private about their location. This was the case when former Vice President Dick Cheney subsequently asked the wireless capabilities of his pacemaker be disabled.

Again, in 2016, Johnson & Johnson warned one of its connected insulin pumps was susceptible to attack, potentially allowing patients to deliver unauthorized insulin injections. Thus, IoT devices can be used to cause harm to users if they are not properly monitored and secured. There has, however, been steps taken to reduce the possibility of these potential problems from occurring.

In 2018, the FDA signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to implement a new medical device cybersecurity framework to be established by both agencies. The FDA also issued a draft update to its premarket guidance for connected healthcare device manufacturers in the same year. The draft stated that end-to-end security must be built in during device design and development stages.

Conclusion on Heart Failure Readmission

Researchers have predicted that about 87% of healthcare organizations will be using Internet of Things (IoT) technology in their facilities by 2019 and that 73% of applications of IoT in healthcare will be used for remote patient monitoring and maintenance, 50% for remote operation and control, and 47% for location-based services. There is no escaping it and it just goes to show the big role that technology will continue to play in the healthcare industry.