Internet of Things Applications for Healthcare

Internet of Things Applications for Healthcare

Ljubica Diković (Business Technical College, Serbia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch320


This paper refers to the paradigm of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) applied for various purposes in the healthcare domain. The functioning of this concept has enabled the collection of a number of technologies in the field of telecommunications, information technology, electronics and social sciences. MHealth as a part of eHealth could be defined as synergistic solution of mobile computing, medical sensor, and communications technologies for health-care, whose common goal is wirelessly monitoring the psycho-physical state of health or remote patient monitoring. This concept represents the evolution of e-health systems to wireless and mobile configurations. This paper aims to provide comprehensive review of recent solutions as well as possible future implementations from the m-Health perspective. Further developments in wireless communications and configurations will have a huge impact on future health-care delivery systems.
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According to the US National Intelligence Council, there are six technologies with potential impacts on the US interests out to 2025 (the US National Intelligence Council, 2009):

  • Biogerontechnology as a technology related to the biological aging processes;

  • Energy Storage Materials;

  • Biofuels and Bio-based Chemicals;

  • Clean Coal Technologies;

  • Service Robotics;

  • The Internet of things.

The great potential offered by the Internet of Things technology enables their wide applications in many areas of society, which would significantly increase and improve the quality of their functioning. By equipping various environments, i.e. domains, even with devices with primitive intelligence and modest communication capabilities, the communication of these entities with each other would be possible, with an aim to ensure data management. Such systems can be widely used in the following areas:

  • Healthcare Domain;

  • Smart Environment Domain;

  • Personal and Social Domain;

  • Transport and Logistics.



The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to wireless networks between objects (things). ‘Things', i.e. objects, become entities with virtual properties which operate and communicate in smart spaces using intelligent interfaces.

Also, the “Internet of Things” is the general idea of things, especially everyday objects that are readable, recognizable, locatable, addressable, and controllable via the Internet - either via Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, telephonic data services, wide-area network, or other means (the US National Intelligence Council, 2009).

In their research paper, Atzori et al. (2010) state that the Internet of Things can be realized in three paradigms: internet-oriented (middleware), things-oriented (sensors) and semantic-oriented (knowledge).

Over the last 20 years, continuous changes in the healthcare domain have taken place, caused by the wide use of information and communication technologies in the medical field. IoT plays a significant role in the broad range of healthcare applications which could be grouped as follows (Atzori et al. (2010)):

  • Tracking of Objects and People (Staff and Patients);

  • Identification and Authentication of People;

  • Automatic Data Collection and Sensing.

The rapid growth of IoT has resulted in a massive growth of data generated by these devices and sensors put on the Internet. The physical-cyber-social big data consist of these IoT data, complemented by the relevant Web-based and social data (Sheth, 2016).

The Internet of Things has been identified as one of the emerging technologies in the IT field. The market adoption of IoT has been forecast to take 5–10 years (Gubbi et al.,2013).

The popularity of different paradigms varies with time. The web search popularity regarding the term IoT in industry, as measured by the Google search trends (n.d.) during the last 10 years, is shown as the red line for Germany and as the blue line for United States in Figure 1. As can be seen, the search volume is consistently increasing, and according to the Google search forecast, the trend is likely to continue. Average interest over time for United States is 22 and for Germany are 13. Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sensor network: A network that consists of multiple detection stations called sensor nodes, each of which is small, lightweight and portable.

Internet of Things (IoT): A new concept that has emerged thanks to the development of new technologies, especially the Internet Technologies and Wireless Sensor Networks that together enable the existence of the health system at the global level.

Health Care Monitoring: The medical applications can be of two types: wearable and implanted. Wearable devices are used on the body surface of a human or just at a close proximity of the user. The implantable medical devices are those that are inserted into the human body.

Telemedicine: A physical and psychological diagnosis and treatment at a distance, including telemonitoring of patients’ functions.

Health Informatics (Healthcare Information Systems): Software solutions for appointment scheduling, patients’ data management, work schedule management and other administrative tasks regarding health.

Sensor Node: A node in a sensor network that is capable of performing some processing, gathering sensory information and communicating with other nodes connected to the network. The main components of a sensor node are a microcontroller, transceiver, external memory, power source and one or more sensors.

Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN): A network that consists of spatially distributed autonomous sensors used to monitor physical or environmental conditions, and to forward their data jointly to the main location through the network.

Body Area Network: A network that can collect information about an individual's health, fitness, and energy expenditure.

Mobile Health (mHealth): A collection of mobile technologies as tools and platforms for health research and healthcare provision.

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