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How to Develop an End-to-End Healthcare IoT Platform

DZone 's Guide to

How to Develop an End-to-End Healthcare IoT Platform

Here's a complete guide on developing healthcare IoT platform and how IoT can bring benefits to the healthcare industry.

· IoT Zone ·
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Whether it’s heart rate tracking or a reminder to take medicine, the Internet of Things (IoT) has brought a new revolution in the healthcare industry. IoT is bridging the gap between doctors, healthcare facilities and patients by allowing them to connect remotely.

Grand View Research revealed that the global IoT in the healthcare market is expected to reach $534.3 billion by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 19.9% over the forecast period. From personal fitness tracking products to remote monitoring applications and surgical robots, IoT has the potential to bring innovation to the healthcare ecosystem.

Though technology cannot eradicate chronic diseases at once, it can at least make healthcare easier in terms of accessibility.

The application of IoT in the healthcare sector is a hope for better healthcare because it facilitates health centers to function competently and patients to get better treatment.

In this article, we shall discuss:

  • How IoT helps in the Healthcare Industry?
  • Healthcare IoT Security Issues and Risks
  • What should be done to secure Healthcare IoT Products?
  • How to develop an end-to-end Healthcare IoT Product?

How IoT helps in the Healthcare Industry

  1. Monitoring and Reporting
    Connected IoT devices can be used for real-time monitoring to save lives in case of a medical emergency like diabetes, asthma attacks and heart failure. With a smart medical device connected to a mobile app, connected devices can gather medical and other health data and use the smartphone data connectivity to share the collected info with physicians.

    IoT devices gather and send health data like oxygen and blood sugar levels, blood pressure, ECGs and weight. The data gets stored in the cloud and can be transferred to the authorized person who could be a doctor, insurance provider, health institute or a third-party consultant. Authorized users can view the collected data regardless of their time, device or place.

    The Center of Connected Health Policy revealed a study that states there was a 50% decline in 30-day readmission rate due to remote monitoring of heart failure patients.

  2. Tracking and Alerts
    Timely alerts are crucial in case of life-threatening situations. Healthcare IoT devices collect essential data and transfer that data to physicians for real-time tracking while sending alerts to people about the critical situation using mobile applications and other associated devices.

    Alerts and patients’ reports provide an opinion about a patient’s condition irrespective of time and place. It also helps make well-informed decisions and deliver on-time treatment.Therefore, IoT facilitates real-time monitoring, tracking and alerting that allows better accuracy and appropriate intervention by physicians and enhances patient care delivery results.

  3. Improving Research System
    Healthcare IoT products can also be used to perform clinical research. IoT facilitates collecting a massive amount of data about the patient’s illness that would have taken years if we would have collected it manually.

    The collected data can also be used for the statistical study to support medical research. IoT does not only save time, but it also saves money invested in the research. Therefore, IoT has a significant contribution to the field of research and introduces better and bigger medical treatments.

  4. Data Assortment and Analysis
    Healthcare IoT devices generate a vast amount of data in a short period. It becomes hard to save and manage the data if you don’t have access to the cloud.
    Also, it is quite difficult for healthcare providers to collect data from multiple sources and devices and analyze them manually.

    But, IoT devices can gather, report and analyze the data in real-time and reduce the need to store the data with edge computing.Healthcare organizations can use healthcare IoT devices to get crucial healthcare data-driven insights and analytics to speed up the decision-making process and avoid errors.

  5. Enhanced Disease Management
    IoT enables real-time remote monitoring of patients via healthcare devices, ensuring that no data related to the condition of a patient is missed. It facilitates the timely and quick diagnosis of the illness. Even when a nurse or doctor is not available with the patient, it is possible to monitor the condition of a patient via a healthcare IoT device and medical application.

    Since IoT healthcare devices are interconnected, they can provide immediate help whenever needed. These devices can be configured with a lower or higher limit. If any medical device registers a lower or higher limit, it automatically triggers another connected device that can stabilize the patient’s condition.At the same time, it can trigger an alert to the doctor, caretaker or nurse smartphone app so that they could provide constant medical assistance to patients.

  6. Monitoring of Staff, Patients and Inventory
    Hospitals across the globe have to deal with the security issue that is critical to handle. Hospital authorities need to manage a lot of things, like patients, staff, hardware and doctors.Though all this can be handled effectively in the case of small hospitals, it may seem challenging in larger hospitals that have multiple buildings along with numerous patients and staff.

    Hospitals are using IoT and real-time GPS services to enhance the monitoring process. With IoT technologies such as WSN and RFID, you cannot only track healthcare-related assets, such as blood bags, medical waste and infusion pumps, but also control the condition of assets, including humidity, orientation and temperature.

    Therefore, healthcare IoT not only improves the visibility of the location and characteristics of the assets but also leverages other aspects of asset management, including preventive maintenance, identification of products and shelf-life estimation.

  7. Connected Inhalers with Sensors
    Adding sensors to healthcare devices can help provide accurate data to doctors for tracking the patient’s condition. One of the companies has designed a sensor that can be attached to the inhaler to gain real insights, for example, when did you intake medication last and when should you retake it.
  8. Ingestible Sensors
    Patients can ingest small capsule-sized IoT sensors to allow the medical team to enable the medical team to track the blood levels, irregularities of the body and determine if the person has taken prescribed medicines. It is useful for old-aged patients whose medication can be monitored efficiently.
  9. Blood Coagulation Testing
    A Bluetooth-enabled coagulation system facilitates the user in monitoring the blood clot tests quickly. It is beneficial to know the blot clot level in the treatment of chronic diseases, such as heart attack or diabetes. Using IoT in healthcare allows diabetic patients to monitor blood coagulation system regularly. It helps patients to remain under the therapeutic range to reduce risks of stroke or bleeding.

Healthcare IoT Security Issues and Risks

Though IoT-enabled healthcare devices provide plenty of benefits, they also pose certain challenges and security issues:

  • Data Privacy and Security
    Many Healthcare IoT devices have to face the issue of data privacy and security. Privacy remains a crucial concern in healthcare systems across the world.
    IoT devices collect healthcare data via remote access mechanisms that have some security and privacy challenges. Data gathered by the sensor is transferred to the cloud over the internet. Moreover, IoT devices connect and communicate with other devices and applications using the internet. It increases the security risks and opens the holes for breaches and attacks as the data is secured at one centralized location. Therefore, the privacy of the data must be protected.
  • Integration: Multiple Devices and Protocols
    Integrating multiple devices also creates a barrier in the implementation of IoT in the healthcare industry. The reason behind the hindrance is that device manufacturers don’t have a common communication standard and protocol.

    When the variety of devices are connected, the distinction in their communication standards hampers the data aggregation process.
    The difference in the connected devices’ protocols decelerates the entire process and reduces the scope of scalability of IoT in the healthcare sector.
  • Data Eavesdropping
    Usually, the health data of patients is only accessible to authorized physicians or caretakers. But, data can eavesdrop while transmitting over the wireless links. For instance, a widespread IoT-enabled glucose monitoring and insulin delivery system uses wireless communication links that are often used to drive privacy attacks and, therefore, require protection of the transmitted data.
  • Ownership of Data
    Each country has laws to protect the patient’s data that can vary from state to state. But, in some cases, for example, in fitness wearables, many people believe that the data gathered and tracked is protected by legislation, which is not valid in many cases.
    Such factors make the data susceptible to hackers and cybercriminals who can hack the system and manipulate personal health information of both doctors and patients.
  • Data Overload and Accuracy
    IoT devices generate a ton of data that is used to gain essential insights. But the amount of data is so enormous that extracting insights from it is becoming complex for doctors. As a result, it has a tremendous impact on the quality of decision-making.

    The concern about data accuracy and overload is rising as more devices are getting connected to record and monitor a massive amount of data.
  • DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service)
    Distributed Denial of Service is an attack where various compromised systems are used to target a single system, causing a denial of service. It can also result in a crash that makes the data unavailable.
  • Unauthorized Data Access
    Each application has a large number of users and different users are assigned to various applications. With a massive amount of data stored in the cloud, the need to ensure that only authorized users can access specific data becomes crucial. Moreover, access control is vital to prevent unauthorized members from accessing the system’s resources and data.
  • Medjacking
    In June 2015, a security company, named TrapX, stated that many healthcare organizations are exposed to medical device hijacking, also called as medjacking. Presently, many healthcare devices enable hackers easy access to steal a large amount of sensitive data from the healthcare provider’s system.
    With access to a connected medical device, hackers might change the drug dosage of the patient to either give them a lethal or too little amount.

What Can Be Done to Secure Healthcare IoT Devices? 

  • Digital certificate/credential for every device
    Digital certificates help in building a comprehensive security program and serve as proof points to identify several entities, including applications, devices and people. With digital certificates for every device, healthcare organizations can validate if a device is authentic with the assurance that its messages are genuine.
    Certificate for every device also allows healthcare IoT platforms and apps to verify the integrity of messages sent from and to each connected device, confirming that dedicated recipients can only exchange the data.
  • Private key storage in hardware
    Keys are generated when a digital certificate is issued. A private key is a separate file used for data encryption. Secure storage hardware or trusted platform module (TPM) is designed to offer hardware-based security functions.
    TPM is a secure cryptoprocessor that performs cryptographic operations. It offers a hardware-enabled method to secure cryptographic certificates and keys.
  • Code Signing
    Healthcare device manufacturers produce different types of code – software apps for use in facilities and hospitals, applets or scripts, or code that runs inside the medical devices, for example, chipsets (also known as firmware)
    Before the code is released, sign the code to make it more secure. Code signing is the application of a digital signature that is added to the piece of code to authenticate it as a legitimate release and provide authenticity of the source.
    It requires an x.509 certificate to do this. Based on the signed code, the certificate can either be privately or publicly rooted certificate authority. Using the code signing approach, you can ensure the security of your product.
  • Root of Trust
    The Root of Trust is one of the best approaches for secure device exchanges. If a healthcare organization manages the RoT on their own, they can have full control over the identity validation of every person or device, they are issuing a key to. Once the digital certificate is issued, anyone can authenticate the identity of a key holder.

How to Develop an End-to-End Healthcare IoT System?

Our approach to building an IoT product for healthcare organizations is represented in the IoT architecture diagram. It displays the components of an IoT product and how they are connected to gather, store, process and analyze the data.

  • Things
    A thing is an object equipped with sensors and actuators. Sensors collect data (for example, blood pressure level, glucose level, body temperature, pulse rate) to be transmitted over the network. On the other hand, actuators enable things to act (for example, to send alerts to doctors in case the patient’s pulse rate goes down or turn on the medical equipment).
  • Gateways
    Data moves from things to the cloud and from the cloud to the product via gateways. A gateway enables connectivity between cloud and thing. It also facilitates data filtering and preprocessing before transferring data to the cloud.
    The gateway forwards control commands from the cloud to things. Things then run those control commands using the actuators.
  • Cloud Gateway
    Cloud Gateway allows secure data transmission and data compression between IoT cloud servers and field gateways. It interacts with field gateways using multiple protocols and ensures compatibility with different protocols.
  • Streaming Data Processor
    It ensures the transfer of input data to a data lake and controls applications. It makes sure that no data cannot be corrupted or lost.
  • Data Lake
    A data lake stores the data collected by connected devices. Big data comes in “streams” or “batches.” When any data is required to generate meaningful insights, it is extracted from a data lake and added to the big data warehouse.
  • Big Data Warehouse
    Preprocessed and filtered data required for valuable insights is moved from a data lake to a big data warehouse. A big data warehouse comprises only structured, matched and clean data. event protocols.
  • Machine Learning Models
    Machine learning can be implemented in healthcare IoT products to create efficient and precise models for control applications. Based on the historical data stored in a big data warehouse, models are updated regularly. .
  • Control Applications
    Control applications are used for sending automatic alerts and commands to actuators, for example:
    • A patient can receive an alert to intake medicine in case the body temperature rises or blood pressure goes down depending on the data gathered by sensors equipped in fitness wearables.
    • Sensors help monitor the critical condition of a patient and send automatic notifications to doctors or caretakers to provide them instant medication.
  • Data Analytics
    Data analysts can utilize data from the big data warehouse to gain valuable insights and find trends. The patterns and correlations found from the collected data can contribute to creating more algorithms for control applications.

While developing a healthcare IoT product, it is essential to consider security aspects so that the data of patients and doctors are never shared unnecessarily. If you are looking to build a secure and compliant healthcare IoT platform for your organization, contact our IoT experts and start a 30-minute free consultation.

  • Things
    A thing is an object equipped with sensors and actuators. Sensors collect data (for example, blood pressure level, glucose level, body temperature, pulse rate) to be transmitted over the network. On the other hand, actuators enable things to act (for example, to send alerts to doctors in case the patient’s pulse rate goes down or turn on the medical equipment).
  • Gateways
    Data moves from things to the cloud and from the cloud to the product via gateways. A gateway enables connectivity between cloud and thing. It also facilitates data filtering and preprocessing before transferring data to the cloud.
    The gateway forwards control commands from the cloud to things. Things then run those control commands using the actuators.
  • Cloud Gateway
    Cloud Gateway allows secure data transmission and data compression between IoT cloud servers and field gateways. It interacts with field gateways using multiple protocols and ensures compatibility with different protocols.
  • Streaming Data Processor
    It ensures the transfer of input data to a data lake and controls applications. It makes sure that no data cannot be corrupted or lost.
  • Data Lake
    A data lake stores the data collected by connected devices. Big data comes in “streams” or “batches.” When any data is required to generate meaningful insights, it is extracted from a data lake and added to the big data warehouse.
  • Big Data Warehouse
    Preprocessed and filtered data required for valuable insights is moved from a data lake to a big data warehouse. A big data warehouse comprises only structured, matched and clean data. event protocols.
  • Machine Learning Models
    Machine learning can be implemented in healthcare IoT products to create efficient and precise models for control applications. Based on the historical data stored in a big data warehouse, models are updated regularly.
  • Control Applications
    Control applications are used for sending automatic alerts and commands to actuators, for example:
    1. A patient can receive an alert to intake medicine in case the body temperature rises or blood pressure goes down depending on the data gathered by sensors equipped in fitness wearables.
    2. Sensors help monitor the critical condition of a patient and send automatic notifications to doctors or caretakers to provide them instant medication.
  • Data Analytics
    Data analysts can utilize data from the big data warehouse to gain valuable insights and find trends. The patterns and correlations found from the collected data can contribute to creating more algorithms for control applications.

While developing a healthcare IoT product, it is essential to consider security aspects so that the data of patients and doctors are never shared unnecessarily.

Topics:
healthcare app development, healthcare software companies, iot, iot healthcare, iot healthcare market

Published at DZone with permission of Akash Takyar . See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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