IoT Paves the Way for Social Care Advancement
The UK’s social care system has never been larger and is under unprecedented pressure. Advances in medical technology and standards of living have led to an increasingly elderly population, but the rising occurrence of chronic diseases common with old age means new and innovative solutions are needed to meet demand. This is particularly so given that this demand shows no sign of easing – recent projects show that in 50 years, time, there are likely to be an additional 8.6 million people aged 65 or over living in the UK. Social care providers need to look to scaleable solutions now to ensure they’re not found badly wanting in future.
One such solution, which is gaining increased attention for the potential benefits it could be set to unlock for the industry is the strategic employment of IoT technology within social care. With audio-activated AI assistants already taking pride of place in many homes across the UK, a similar tech-enabled revolution could happen in the much more critical domain of domestic healthcare.
Wearable technology has already created a buzz in the global healthcare scene with potential being shown for crucial health metrics to be tracked through sensors worn on the body, a particular boon in treating those with chronic disease who might need urgent attention if a specific trackable metric is reached (eg blood pressure for a diabetic). But often overlooked are the possibilities to incorporate technology in the home
Set to become near-ubiquitous in the near future, IoT sensors have a number of characteristics which make them particularly beneficial to a healthcare application, being low cost, versatile, and offering comprehensive views of both historical and real-time data. Notifications can be delivered to care providers of urgent resident needs to be addressed at short notice, as well as assisting with the day-to-day management of chronic conditions or specific patient requirements.
Environmental factors can pose specific risks to elderly people, as our immune systems tend to become weaker and more susceptible as we age. Responses to environmental dangers can be automated with IoT technology, as heating and cooling systems, appliances and home security systems can now increasingly be controlled remotely. Configurable triggers can be set to, for example, adjust room temperature for at-risk residents when temperatures drop in winter, or in the inverse case, prevent overheating in times of notable humidity. Vocal reminders via AI assistants might also be triggered to remind residents to take their medication, or to go for a walk or exercise.
IoT technology thus empowers elderly loved ones to retain their cherished independence for as long as possible, while still having control over key areas that could be difficult for them to manage or maintain all alone. Energy efficiency monitoring, smoke alarm alerts, and home security triggers are all important examples of areas social care workers or even family members may wish to administrate for elderly residents living independently.
With the global IoT healthcare market forecast to increase from $32bn to $163bn by 2020, social care providers can’t afford to overlook the benefits of IoT technology in meeting the growing demand for quality care. IntechIoT offers a suite of services at competitive prices to cater for differing domestic healthcare needs, including a comprehensive range of sensors and real-time dashboard tracking of key health and environmental metrics. Social care companies looking to deliver unparalleled services to their patients shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch and join a growing digital healthcare revolution.