Possible impact of IoT in health care in developing countries cannot be underestimated

We are happy to present you an interview with Mobyen Uddin Ahmed, a post doctoral researcher in Intelligent Systems at the Mälardalen University, Sweden, and a member of ESS-H – Embedded Sensor Systems for Health Research Profile. He is also the general chair of HealthyIoT 2016, the 3rd EAI International Conference on IoT Technologies for HealthCare, which will take place between October 18-19 in Västerås, Sweden. In our talk, we explored the potential of Internet of Things in the healthcare domain, the dangers, as well as the untapped areas.

How can IoT make an impact on our health care? What technologies are the most applicable ones in medical science?

Dr. Mobyen Uddin Ahmed
Dr. Mobyen Uddin Ahmed

IoT can have a huge impact. For example, remote health monitoring/management is one of the potential areas. It can measure several health parameters with different connected sensor devices and increase the possibility to parallel monitoring of several patients “anywhere and anytime”. As a consequence, it could help us avoid unnecessary appointments and thus reduce the overall cost of facilitating health care, and provide more efficient and accurate remote monitoring of health. Self-served health monitors based on IoT can also play an important role in active independent life. They could improve the quality of life by enabling early prognosis of a disease. Again, based on Big Data collected from heterogeneous sources, cloud-based IoT systems could provide health care support and information to multiple users in the health care ecosystems e.g., clinics, doctors, medical experts and patients. Using IoT, it would be possible to extend cost-effective health care services to people in rural and remote areas, as well as in developing countries with mobile communication infrastructure. Researchers are now thinking of smart cities, however, with proper IoT infrastructure, it may be possible to develop “smart villages” in the future.

IoT infrastructure, framework, wireless communication, embedded sensors, advanced data management, Big Data analytics, decision support, machine learning, data fusion etc. are all technologies applicable in medical science.

What are the possible dangers of implementing IoT-based systems in our healthcare? How are the researchers trying to prevent them?

When it comes to remote monitoring, security, safety and privacy are the most common dangers that should be considered when implementing IoT-based systems in healthcare. Again, data consistency, integrity, communication protocols, etc. should be considered since more and more new IoT medical devices are being developed. Additionally, it is necessary to reduce false alarms generated by the system. In IoT based system, heterogeneous data are generated from various sources, hence the challenges are: detection of noisy data, data processing in real-time, handling data that is generated from a malfunctioning device etc. Since the number of internet-based devices increased, the data systems full of sensitive patient health and financial information is attractive to cyber-attackers. Health care organizations absolutely must have security on their mind as they look ahead to IoT. The need for more and better data encryption will be front and center.

Is there a certain specific issue where this field could use a major boost?

IoT in healthcare has already been introduced, but it is not moving forward at the same pace as industrial IoT. Improvement can be achieved by boosting one important issue into the field that is security, safety and privacy. Again –  proper communication, standard protocol, and smart sensors could be developed for that. Same as smart home and smart city, “smart hospital” could be implemented. Thus, the “Internet of Things (IoT)” will become “Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)”.

How will this event contribute to the field?

The 3rd EAI International Conference on IoT Technologies for HealthCare, HealthyIoT 2016 will contribute to the field in many different ways.

  • It is an international scientific event that dedicated to Internet of Things and Healthcare so it will help to meet the current need is to share the knowledge and experiences in this area.
  • HealthyIoT 2016 aims to gather people from several disciplines such as technology experts, researchers, industry and international authorities which allows to discuss view points from different aspects.
  • The main contribution by the participants is the development and deployment of healthcare solutions based on IoT technologies, standards and procedures. Hence, it will eventually support in gathering knowledge in developing systems that is more user acceptable and feasible in this area.
  • It includes an international workshop on Emerging eHealth through Internet of Things and finally, lectures by famous and well known keynote speakers within the field.

It’s a great opportunity to learn and discuss about new ideas, techniques and possibilities within the group of people who are dedicatedly thinking about a connected future world with improved health care.