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Smart healthcare in the IoT era

As the IoT ecosystem expands deeper into our personal lives, smart healthcare technologies open up an array of applications that will improve the quality of care received and contribute to a growing IoT healthcare market. For example, healthcare organizations are rapidly deploying connected technologies, including Alzheimer and dementia patient tracking, fall detection and medical fridge monitoring. Grand View Research projects that in 2022, nearly $410 billion in investments will go towards IoT devices, software and services in the healthcare industry.

Long range and low power technology — such as LoRa devices and LoRaWAN protocols — plays a critical role in healthcare IoT applications and have many applications. LoRa deployments’ flexibility to suit the various needs of healthcare providers can equip facilities to meet the demands of providing care.

Let’s dive into some examples.

Patient Monitoring

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that in 2015, the medical cost of falls in the U.S. totaled $50 billion, with an average hospital cost of $30,000. For the elderly, falling is more than just an economic burden. A fall in an isolated environment with limited access to help is a very scary prospect that prevents many elderly from leading an active, normal life.  Fear of falling can accelerate depression and decrease social activities leading to an overall lower quality of life.

An IoT-based fall detection technology comprised of LoRa devices and LoRaWAN protocol could give healthcare providers an intelligent low power wide-area network that will reduce the time elderly remain on the floor after a fall. When a patient falls, the device sends a signal to the caregivers, who can immediately respond no matter where they are within the network thanks to the data provided. The LoRa-based system can also send periodic updates on the location of patients. Sensors can be connected from 15 to30 miles away in rural areas, giving ease of mind to the loved ones of dementia patients and Alzheimer’s disease patients who are prone to wandering.

Medical Refrigerators

When a personal refrigerator loses power, the worst thing that can happen is groceries spoiling. The healthcare industry faces dire consequences if a medical refrigerator fails. Medical refrigerators often carry important medications, vaccines and blood donations that are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and must be kept at certain temperature levels. The organizations tasked with storing these items cannot afford to use unnecessary amounts of energy or replace sensors in remote locations, so it’s also critical that the technology they use is low power. Low power devices can be difficult and costly to replace.

With LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol, medical refrigerators can be monitored past working hours, providing the necessary information for an appropriate response by healthcare professionals. In the past, professionals manually monitored refrigerators, which was both time consuming and prone to user error. With LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol, facilities can monitor whether a refrigerator is failing, figure out how long it has lost power and determine if the temperature is still suitable for the contents inside and safe for patient use.

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