Six IoT healthcare innovations to look out for in 2022

You may have heard of the term ‘internet of things’ (the IoT) before. This refers to a system of internet-connected devices that collect and transfer data over a wireless network.

While the IoT is rapidly evolving in several areas, from robots and driverless cars to drones, it’s also expanding into the healthcare industry, with the number of connected healthcare devices expected to exceed 50 billion in the next decade.

From fitness trackers to remote heart rate monitors, the number of devices able to receive and transmit patient data is continuing to expand. Below, we take a look at six key IoT healthcare innovations to look out for in 2022.

  1. Remote patient monitoring

Remote patient monitoring is a key trend expected to dominate the IoT healthcare market in 2022. This involves using a connected healthcare device to collect medical data when patients aren’t in a healthcare facility. The device then securely forwards the data to a software application where healthcare professionals can review it. Algorithms may also be used to analyse the data collected and recommend specific treatments. For example, remote heart rate monitors are able to continuously measure and track a patient’s heart rate. These are also increasingly being incorporated into fitness bands and smart watches, enabling you to monitor your heart beat when you’re exercising and at rest.

  1. Hand hygiene monitoring

Maintaining good personal hygiene and handwashing have been included as some of the key ways to protect yourself and others during the COVID-19 pandemic. While hand hygiene monitoring systems are being used in hospitals to remind staff and patients to sanitise their hands, a new Hand Washing feature has recently been introduced on the Apple Watch. This sets a 20-second timer when you start washing your hands, ensuring you are doing so for the correct amount of time.

  1. Connected insulin pens

Another innovation set to hit the IoT healthcare market in 2022 is connected insulin pens. These measure and track the amount of insulin injected into a user’s bloodstream and send the data to a user’s smartphone. This can help patients with diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels, while also reminding users when they’ve missed a dose of their medication. Healthcare technology company Medtronic have recently released an InPen, with more smart insulin devices set to follow over the next few years.

  1. Smart inhalers

Smart inhalers could be another IoT innovation rolled out more widely this year. These contain a sensor that records data about the time and date of use, before sending an alert to your mobile device. This is useful for tracking how often you use your inhaler, and reminding users when they’ve forgotten to take their medication. Smart inhalers are also able to detect whether you’re in a high pollution environment, making it easy to manage and control symptoms. However, these are still undergoing clinical trials and are not yet available from doctors or pharmacies.

  1. Smart contact lenses

Another IoT device currently under development is smart contact lenses. These look like normal contact lenses, but contain an electronic mesh that detects and monitors temperature, light and glucose behind the eyelids. This is able to issue a warning to the user’s smartphone if their glucose or blood pressure levels are too high. While smart contact lenses are already helping doctors monitor patients with diabetes and heart disease, these could soon also help manage eye conditions including cataracts and glaucoma.

  1. Digital pills

A final IoT innovation set to rapidly advance in 2022 is smart pills. These are small electronic devices shaped like paracetamol that contain ingestible sensors. Once swallowed, these travel down to the stomach and monitor important bodily functions including blood pressure and body temperature, before transmitting the data to a user’s smartphone via Bluetooth or a mobile app. While the first smart pill was approved for wider use back in 2017, researchers are also developing devices containing sensors able to detect disease once taken.

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