We are entering a new era – the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Earlier eras focused on digitization and information technology.  People and devices became connected more so than ever before thanks to WiFi and its integration into so many technologies and applications.

Everything is now becoming connected in the “Internet of Things” (IoT) The machines, as well as anything that has electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, are all connected. This may not sound like a big deal, but the impact of the IoT on business, healthcare, and life will be significant.

We are already seeing house automation, where home owners can control things such as heating and air conditioning, lightning, security systems, locks on doors and windows, and even appliances with remote-controlled access over the internet from a smart phone or tablet.  Say your daughter forgot her house key this morning and is now locked out of the house after getting home from school. No problem! Just unlock the door from your phone and let her in.

Healthcare may become one of the biggest revolutions as a product of the IoT. This is already being incorporated in some hospitals, where they use sensors for security purposes. The Boston Medical Center is able to protect newborn babies by using wristbands that are connected to a wireless network, allowing the babies to be located at all times. If a newborn is taken too close to an exit without being signed out, the exit doors will automatically lock. As Patients can receive better care when monitoring devices automatically send alerts to nurses via hospital cell phones when these sensors detect unsafe changes in the patient’s conditions, such as heart rate and oxygen levels.

IBM Watson, the super computer, is now being used by some hospitals around the world to improve healthcare through IBM Watson Healthcare. The advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities of Watson will help predictive analysis with diagnosing diseases and even aid in the development of personal treatments for cancer patients. Watson is able instantly to sift through and process substantial amounts of data from websites and different; it even helps doctors translate DNA insights to help create personal treatment for a patient.

This is just the beginning as these technologies and strategies continue to grow and emerge. With everything from cars, buildings, medical devices, all the way to vending machines being able to communicate, the amount of data we can harness will be used to improve services and products. With so much potential for advanced automation, we could see things like robot-assisted surgery, virtual nursing assistants, dosage error reduction, and administrative workflow help, all helping to lower a hospital’s bottom line and cut the cost of healthcare.

There is still a long road ahead, as people need to figure out information security, data management, and AI implementation and management for all these devices; however the benefits are beyond incredible and will continue to increase. Machines will not replace human aid all together in healthcare, but you may soon be surprised to find one of your “doctors” is actually a computer. Imagine your laptop in a pair of scrubs, suggesting treatment options after your next hospital visit. It won’t quite be like that, but it will be nothing short of amazing.

As always, for more insight into what we do for the healthcare field, please contact us here.

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