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Research Paper (undergraduate), 2017
31 Pages, Grade: B+
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Literature Review
Application of IoT to Healthcare
Summary of Findings
Chapter 3: Background Research
Primary Research Findings from Group 1
Primary Research Findings from Group 2
Chapter 4: Requirements
Chapter 5: Design
Design of the End-Product
Improving the quality of services ‘QoS’ has been a major objective for the healthcare sector across the globe, especially with a constant increase in competition. Innovations adapted by one healthcare institution produce a snowball effect, urging all others in line to bring similar innovations. Advancements in the fields of medicine and biotechnology is one thing that is improving the quality of healthcare; however, quality of services largely depends on effective collaboration and communication. This is because healthcare is a time-critical field where every second counts as life-saving, provided that the right decisions are taken promptly. Development and implementation of Enterprise Social Media applications is doing its part in fostering collaboration and communication across hospitals but a technology that holds even greater potential is that of Internet of Things; an array of devices called ‘Things’ connected over a single internet connection to efficiently transmit information and automate various operations. Although the IoT paradigm is yet to reach its maturity with regards to healthcare, still there are several promising opportunities in the industry that can help improve performance.
The central aim of this research study is to lay the foundations of a basic model of IoT for healthcare service providers that can help empower the overall healthcare management practices. This central aim has been tied up with the following core objectives;
1. To conduct an extensive contextual research on the application and impact of Internet of Things across a variety of healthcare settings.
2. To indulge in primary research and gain insight from industry professionals that are already implementing or utilizing Internet of Things to take care of certain specific operations.
3. To identify the measurable impacts that Internet of Things has had on the healthcare industry.
4. To identify best practices with regards to application of Internet of Things in healthcare.
5. To develop a foundational model of Internet of Things encompassing a set of devices that can be directly implemented into healthcare operations.
The internet of things model for healthcare would essentially comprise of an array of medical devices that are connected over a single – expanded – internet connection in order to streamline the overall flow of medical data. It would empower the E-HR ‘Electronic Health Records’ by making the necessary health-specific information readily available to healthcare professionals, including clinicians, surgeons, pathologists, General Practitioners and nurses. By ensuring readiness of information availability, integration of Internet of Things would benefit the patients and the caregivers by improving the overall quality of healthcare services being provided. In addition, internet of things will also entail many prominent innovations in the wearables industry, including fitness bands, smart watches and a range of smart clothing. The long-term vision of this research study is to completely integrate the Internet of Things into healthcare so that high quality and prompt healthcare services are swiftly and readily available to patients without making any compromises whatsoever. For instance, complete integration of the Internet of Things into healthcare would enable a General Practitioner to stay updated with a certain Diabetes patient’s diet, insulin and blood sugar levels, thereby enabling him to regularly check his patient’s health status. What’s more to it is that the healthcare professional will also stay connected with the patient and would be able to send live feeds to change his diet plan or increase the dosage of a particular medication. However, this long-term vision can only be achieved if an IoT framework has been developed that ensures interoperability, privacy, security and reliability. Patients will need to get acquainted with such frameworks and would require adequate trust and credibility. Thus, an added objective of ‘security and privacy’ has also been considered influential for the current study. Consequently, successful completion of this research study will also provide a clear direction for future researchers and healthcare R&D professionals to pave the way for an improved and dependable framework for providing healthcare services.
The format of this research paper is such that it has been divided into chapters that deal with a separate – specific – section. Chapter 2 sets out a comprehensive literature review of the most relevant research studies conducted with regards to the implementation and use of IoT. Chapter 3 has been specified to present background research, which would largely comprise of primary research conducted by involving primary research participants to the research study. The background research will primarily focus on the inclusion of healthcare professionals and clinicians who are currently using Internet of Things in certain operational settings to determine the impacts of using IoT. Chapter 4 details the complete project requirements for this research study. Chapter 5 sets out the overall design of the project outcome. Chapter 6 presents an evaluation and testing plan for the IoT based healthcare model. Chapter 7 concludes the overall research findings and comments on how the research study has helped achieve business objectives.
This chapter sets out to share empirical evidence gathered through past research studies with regards to practical application of IoT in the healthcare sector, while also bringing to light the major advantages underlying the use of IoT based healthcare applications and information systems. Furthermore, it presents a variety of literature that speaks of the need for specialized data warehouses that could cater to individual areas within healthcare organizations, such as Intensive Care Units, Depression Management Units and general healthcare services.
In the present day, there is a vast variety of literature available that speaks of IoT and its applications in the healthcare industry. To a great extent, IoT has enabled healthcare professionals and institutions achieve accuracy and instill efficiency in their routine operations; however, there is still room for improving healthcare services through the application of Internet of Things (Lee and Lee, 2015). In addition to lack of secure web interfaces and absence of transport encryption (Lee and Lee, 2015), there are several database management challenges of IoT in the healthcare sector (Cooper and James, 2009). Nonetheless, there is an abundance of evidence suggesting implementation of IoT in the healthcare sector that is worthy of discussion. A major portion of such literature supports the use of IoT for monitoring, control and management of chronic healthcare conditions, where special attention has been given to Diabetes Miletus, a long-lasting condition that requires routine healthcare monitoring and tracking.
The research study by Goldberg et al (2003) can be considered as an early attempt to integrate the Internet of Things into traditional healthcare dynamics, where an internet co-management module was proposed as an assistance for patients with chronic diseases. Goldberg et al (2003) developed a diabetes care module comprising basically of 5 websites where each website could be utilized for a specified functionality, including;
- Accessibility to the patients’ medical records uploaded to the module.
- The ability to upload their readings of blood glucose levels to the module.
- The ability to use an online diary to input data specific to medication, nutrition and exercise.
- The ability to communicate with healthcare providers through email.
- The ability to view and explore related endorsed content through the module.
This early attempt by Goldberg et al (2003) laid the foundations for a virtual clinic for patients with chronic illnesses; however, may only be worth consideration for future developmental works and to gain just a basic idea of how Internet of Things can be leveraged to foster healthcare services.
An updated version of the virtual clinic has been proposed in the study by Jennings et al (2009) where the idea of an internet-based virtual clinic has been presented along with a thorough evaluation of its applicability and feasibility in the contemporary healthcare dynamics. The aim behind this virtual clinic was largely to facilitate patients using insulin pumps in self-management of diabetes. As demonstrated in Figures 1 and 2 below, the virtual clinic proposed by Jennings et al (2009) offered internet-based support for three core functionalities, i.e. information access, peer-to-peer interaction and the ability of patients to communicate with healthcare professionals;
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Figure 1: Virtual Clinic Discussion Board –Source: Jennings, et al (2009)
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Figure 2: Virtual Clinic Homepage –Source: Jennings et al (2009)
The figures above show an overview of the Virtual Clinic developed and proposed by Jennings et al (2009), where peer-to-peer communication has been shown in figure 1 discussion board and the Virtual Clinic homepage has been shown in figure 2 respectively. Their study recruited a total of 19 patients with chronic diabetes that has been ongoing for an average of 23 years in order to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of the Virtual Clinic in self-management of diabetes. Results indicated that 58% of patients rated the Virtual Clinic positively for ease of use, with 4% rating the interface neutral in terms of usability (Jennings et al, 2009). Although 6 patients withdrew from research, yet, their study indicated that the cumulative averages suggest that the proposed Virtual Clinic was highly feasible for diabetes patients, and allowed them to not only self-manage their condition through liaison with healthcare professionals, but also to get in touch with other diabetes patients and share general care strategies and experiences.
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