Farkhi Hassan |
As a digitally aware person living, on the digital frontier in Pakistan, I follow the changes new technologies are bringing very closely, particularly in the Internet of Things (IoT). The impact in developing countries such as Pakistan can be broader, deeper and far more life-changing.
In countries like Pakistan, the arrival of such new technologies often introduces completely new ways of doing things, leapfrogging beyond the legacy technologies which had never taken root here. The introduction of IoT into the medical sphere (also known as IOMT – Internet of Medial Things) here offers a significant example, one which will bring many 21st century services to people here on a wide scale.
This kind of treatment spares patients from traveling to a hospital whenever they have medical questions or changes in their condition, and doctors can monitor the health of their patients from their own offices
More than 60% of Pakistan’s 170 million-strong population is living in rural areas where hospitals and basic health care units are far away from their reach. Up until now, the Pakistani government has been trying to improve the health and nutritional status of the country through promotional, preventive and rural services but rural healthcare continues to lag in quality, affordability, and accessibility.
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One of the main causes of illness is unclean water. More than 40% Pakistanis lack access to clean water. But now, inexpensive IoT devices can be placed in wells, rivers and in the water tanks of the houses to check bacteria levels. High levels can trigger SMS-based alarms to be sent to the Health Ministry, residents or landlords about the condition of their water.
Given the scarcity of doctors in Pakistan, there is a lot of room for making use of IoT-based “m-health” devices to track and report specific relevant data about patients health to their physicians and back to the patient, thus lessening the need for direct patient-physician interactions and increasing their focus and utility when they do take place.
Availability and freshness of medications in hospitals can also be aided by the use of IoT technologies. Mobile devices with NFC and RFID capabilities can send alerts and even place orders for new stock without any involvement of staff
Similarly, “Smart Sensor Beds” in hospitals can be introduced that can inform nurses when a patient is trying to get up. Drug detector devices would upload data to the cloud when medication isn’t taken or if other signs are present which warrant notifying the care team.
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Availability and freshness of medications in hospitals can also be aided by the use of IoT technologies. Mobile devices with NFC (Near Field Communications) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) capabilities can send alerts and even place orders for new stock without any involvement of staff.
In Pakistan, hospital-acquired infections are themselves a big killer. Hospital management could deploy devices which reflect how many times a specific hospital employee has washed his or her hands and also remind the employee to do so. Indeed, an IoT based Hospital Hygiene System could have real life-saving potential.
The introduction of IoT into the medical sphere here offers a significant example, one which will bring many 21st century services to people here on a wide scale
The practice of using IoT devices to remotely monitor patients in their homes known as “telemedicine” can be used to close the quality gap for patients in rural areas which are underserved by traditional hospitals.
This kind of treatment spares patients from traveling to a hospital whenever they have medical questions or changes in their condition, and doctors can monitor the health of their patients from their own offices.” It would also immensely improve the healthcare of such individuals who often cannot afford to spend to travel to hospitals.