Internet of Things (IoT) is a comprehensive term for any one of the many
networks of sensors, actuators, processors, and computers connected to the
Internet. Healthcare applications for the IoT can potentially deliver
comprehensive patient care in various settings, including acute (in-hospital),
long-term (nursing homes), and community-based (typically, in-home).
IoT has the potential to accurately track people, equipment, specimens,
supplies, or even service animals and analyze the data captured. With patients
attached to sensors to measure vital signs and other biometric information,
problems could be more rapidly diagnosed, a better quality of care given, and
resources can be used more efficiently. The aim of this paper is to discuss the
advancement of IoT in healthcare industry, and discuss the challenges and
prospects on the development of IoT based healthcare system.
Internet of Things, Healthcare System
last few decades have witnessed a steady increase in life expectancy in many
parts of the world leading to a sharp rise in the number of elderly people. A
recent report from the United Nations 1 predicted that there will be 2 billion
(22% of the world population) older people by 2050. In addition, research
indicates that about 89% of elderly people are likely to live independently.
However, medical research surveys found that about 80% of elderly people older
than 65 suffer from at least one chronic disease 2 causing many elderly people
to have difficulty in taking care of themselves. Providing a decent quality of
life for elderly people has become a serious social challenge at the moment. The
rapid proliferation of information and communication technologies is enabling
innovative healthcare solutions and tools that show promise in addressing the
of Things (IoT) has emerged as one of the most powerful communication paradigms
of the 21st century. In the IoT environment, all objects in our daily life
become part of the Internet because of their communication and computing capabilities
(including microcontrollers, transceivers for digital communication, suitable
protocol stacks) that allow them to communicate with other objects 3. IoT
extends the concept of the Internet and makes it more pervasive. In the IoT environment,
the seamless interactions among different types of devices, such as vehicles,
medical sensors, monitoring cameras, home appliances, etc., have led to the
emergence of many applications such as smart city, home automation, smart grid,
traffic management, etc. 4. In the healthcare area, IoT involves many kinds
of cheap sensors (wearable, implanted, and environmental) that enable elderly
people to enjoy medical healthcare anywhere, any time. They not only bring
convenience to medical workers but also improve elderly people’s quality of
2. Origin and Development of IoT in
was first proposed by Ashton 5 and Brock 6 who founded the Auto-ID center
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The term ‘Auto-ID’ can represent
any type of identification technologies for various applications, such as error
reduction, improvement of efficiency, and automation. The relevant Electronic
Product Code (EPC) network was launched by the Auto- ID center in 2003 at its
executive symposium 7. Objects can be tracked when they move from one place
to another. As commented by Meloan 8 , the release of EPC network allows one
to imagine the big time of the IoT paradigm as a global mainstream commercial
means, in which microchips will be networked and form the IoT 9 . The
successful development of RIFD indicates that IoT would go out of the
laboratory and lead a new IT era in both academy and industry 10.
paradigm of IoT for healthcare has been gradually formed, as shown in Fig. 1.
The paradigm consists of three parts: Master, Server and Things 11. Master
includes the doctors, nurses, and the patients, who have their speci?c
permission to the system by end-user devices (e.g. Smartphone, PC, or tablet).
Sever acts as the central part of the entire healthcare system. It is
responsible for prescription generation, data base management, data analysis,
sub- system construction and knowledge base management. Things refer to all the
physical objects (including the patients and human resources) that are
connected by WAN, multi-media technology or Short Message Service (SMS).
Furthermore, normal devices that cannot be connected to the network but commonly
used in current rehabilitation conditions are also included in the smart rehabilitation
system and made compatible to the network.
1. System architecture of the IoT based
rehabilitation Fan Y.J. et al, 2014.
3. Applications of IoT in Healthcare:
following represent just a handful of IoT healthcare application systems.
Higher patient engagement: The IoT makes it easier
for patients to play an active role in their healthcare journey. Not only are
the devices evolving to better meet the needs of remote monitoring (smaller
form factors, lighter weight, etc.), but the way patients access data is
changing as well. Patients can now use apps and software to access their own
health data and see their progress and the impact of the healthcare program on
Better patient outcome: With the IoT, caregivers have access
to real-time patient information that enables them to make informed decisions
and therefore deliver better outcomes. When a healthcare provider can make
diagnosis based on evidence — in real time — everyone wins. The bonus: Patients
that can be monitored remotely can avoid doctors’ visits, hospital stays and
A decrease in error: When data is collected and
transmitted automatically via automated workflows, error rates drop compared
with manual collection and reporting.
4. Challenges Ahead:
healthcare system must be safe, and this quality must be incorporated into any
system specifications in this domain. But one particular set of challenges to
implementing real IoT healthcare systems must be addressed: security, privacy,
and trust 12.
long predicted IoT revolution in healthcare is already underway. And, as new
use cases are emerging, they continue to address the urgent need for
affordable, accessible care. As new IoT systems are developed and deployed,
the challenge in healthcare is to improve patient care without a reduction in
caring through reduced human contact with patients