Using IoT Technology to Enhance Healthcare Environments

IoT in Healthcare: Enhancing Medical Environments With Innovative Solutions

December 10, 2020

The IoT (Internet of Things) field is growing rapidly, and more people are relying on smart devices and smart building technology during their day-to-day lives. In fact, the smart building market is expected to reach $109.48 billion by 2026.

With the growth of the smart building market, IoT applications and devices are evolving to meet the growing demands of a digital world. Wherever there are opportunities for innovation, forward-thinking IoT vendors are producing creative solutions to enhance comfort, convenience, security and more.

Opportunities for IoT innovation in the healthcare industry are constantly appearing and evolving. Medical facilities have unique challenges, and IoT vendors are developing new ways to address those challenges.

Applications of IoT in medical care range from environmental controls and security solutions to wearable sensors and cloud-connected medical equipment. The positive impact of IoT in healthcare transforms the healthcare experience, improving patient outcomes and enhancing quality of care.

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IoT in Healthcare Topics

What is IoT?

IoT stands for Internet of Things. IoT includes any device that uses an internet connection to transmit or collect data, control a process or exchange information with other devices.

IoT was once a small, niche field, but connected devices now outnumber humans. In 2018, there were 2.4 network-connected devices for every 1 person, and Cisco estimates that number will grow to 3.6 by 2023.

Consumer IoT devices, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, are on the rise. An estimated 3.5 billion people — around 44% of the global population — own smartphones. Most people rely on the Internet of things every day, and application opportunities are growing across industries, including education, data centers, hospitality and healthcare.

Can IoT be implemented in healthcare?

IoT is a great fit for healthcare situations. IoT solutions can help alleviate many common challenges in medical settings. Additionally, IoT platforms such as Nexos by Igor connect multiple systems and bring together previously siloed sets of data from various sources.

Keep reading to explore exactly what we mean when we say IoT in healthcare, and how this type of technology can be implemented in the healthcare setting.

What is IoT in healthcare?

IoT in healthcare simply refers to connected devices used in a hospital, clinic or other medical setting. Common IoT devices include smart thermostats, automated lighting, security systems, digital signage and many types of sensors. When implemented in a healthcare context, some of these devices play a unique role in patient care, comfort and safety.

IoT technology in healthcare may also refer to medical devices being integrated into an IoT framework. Healthcare-specific IoT devices are often distinguished from traditional IoT technology with the terms medical IoT and Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).

What is medical IoT or the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)?

Medical IoT or IoMT includes things like smart patient monitoring devices, connected medical sensors and more. When traditional medical devices are outfitted with IoT technology, doctors can more effectively observe and regulate many elements of patient care.

IoT in general has many purposes and benefits for a variety of industries and environments. IoT devices typically improve user comfort and convenience. IoT in healthcare can provide that comfort component while offering additional health-tracking and security benefits to both patients and healthcare providers.

IoMT is a growing niche in the IoT field, and there is much to learn. However, there are many proven strategies for using IoT devices in medical environments. When combined with standard IoT solutions such as smart locks, intelligent lighting, digital signage and various sensors, IoMT devices enable an optimized healthcare environment with enhanced patient comfort and care.

Internet of medical things devices in hospital.

How IoT is Used in Healthcare

There are a variety of ways IoT is currently being used in healthcare settings, and there are also ideas and aspirations for future uses. IoT and IoMT applications are constantly evolving as technology becomes more powerful and sophisticated.

What are the applications of IoT in healthcare?

Hospitals, clinics and other healthcare settings can use IoT to increase patient comfort, facilitate doctor decision-making and make healthcare environments safer for both patients and staff. Explore these examples of IoT applications in healthcare to achieve better outcomes.

IoT Use Case #1: How IoT Improves Patient Outcomes & Comfort

In hospitals and other care facilities, the environment can be uncomfortable for patients. One study published in the Journal of Health Environments Research and Design found that patients and their families value privacy, accessibility and comfort in hospital rooms. Security was another priority cited. Studies show that increased patient comfort can lead to reduced stress and faster recovery.

IoT solutions such as smart thermostats and customizable lighting controls in hospital rooms provide greater comfort for patients and greater control for care providers. Making a room brighter facilitates caregiving tasks and procedures, while dimming the lights makes the room more tranquil and comfortable for the patient. Automated window shades offer similar lighting control while enabling patients to experience the health and mood benefits of a sunny day.

Sensors in beds can monitor sleeping behavior and notify staff if something is wrong. A patient in distress may not be able to alert staff, but a bed sensor can detect sudden movements and send an automated notification to a doctor or nurse. In a connected IoT ecosystem, a bed sensor could also be integrated with the lighting in a patient’s room or a colored indicator light outside the room.

Wearable technology is another helpful IoT solution that can improve patient outcomes by providing real-time data, trends and alerts about potential health issues.

IoT Use Case #2: How IoT Helps Physicians Make Better Decisions

IoT devices and systems can also help physicians make informed medical decisions and provide better care for patients. IoMT devices such as connected medical sensors allow data collection without a physical exam.

Wearable IoT technology enables remote health monitoring. Doctors can reliably track health vitals, physical activity and other things that can inform adjustments to treatment plans or other interventions. Examples of wearable IoMT devices include:

  • Devices that report location data and vital signs in real-time, designed to enhance safety for elderly patients and patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Smart belts that detect falls
  • Smart pills, or tiny swallowable sensors that report data about patients’ stomach fluids

With devices uploading data directly and instantaneously to a cloud database, an IoT system can compile information and produce reports, allowing doctors to quickly identify trends. Faster and more complete data access also allows for better collaboration between specialists.

IoT Use Case #3: How IoT Makes Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities Safer

Many traditional IoT security solutions can be used to make hospitals and healthcare facilities safer for patients and staff:

  • Smart locks and security systems allow protocols to be implemented according to pre-set programs, such as lockdown scenarios.
  • IoT maintenance sensors can be used to notify facilities managers of potential dangerous leaks and other hazards.
  • Temperature sensors ensure food, blood and medications are stored safely.
  • Occupancy sensors monitor waiting areas and notify staff when approaching capacity so that critical patients can be diverted to other hospitals.
  • Digital wayfinding systems make hospitals easier to navigate.
  • Automated UV disinfection systems make waiting rooms and common areas safer and more sanitary.

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using IoT in medical care settings. 

Doctor using IoT tablet.

What are the benefits of IoT in healthcare?

The benefits and positive impact of IoT in healthcare are numerous and varied:

  • Increased patient comfort and convenience enable better patient satisfaction and faster recovery times.
  • IoT healthcare devices, wearable technology and data access allow physicians to monitor patients with greater precision and provide better-informed treatment.
  • IoT security systems increase safety for patients, physicians and staff.
  • UV light sanitation systems keep spaces clean and prevent illness.

Another benefit of IoT smart hospital solutions: future-proofing. Although there is an initial investment associated with implementing an IoT infrastructure, installing devices and training staff members on software systems, the value only increases over time. Once an IoT ecosystem is in place, it’s easy to integrate new IoMT devices as they are developed. An IoT-enabled smart hospital will quickly be years ahead of similar facilities that choose not to implement IoT devices and solutions.

Doctor and patient in hospital room.

What are the challenges of using IoT in healthcare?

Although there are many benefits to using IoT technology in healthcare settings, there are also IoT challenges in healthcare. Healthcare facilities must recognize the potential difficulties they face when implementing IoT in healthcare contexts.


Hospitals and other medical facilities adhere to strict security standards, patient privacy requirements and compliance guidelines. Healthcare organizations, especially large healthcare networks, are often faced with managing security for many different facilities, as well as large repositories of data.

Using IoT in medical care environments makes security challenges easier to manage. Automated security programs are one simple way to keep patients and staff safe. Power over Ethernet (PoE), the primary protocol used by Nexos, is one of the most secure technology solutions available, so it’s a good option for healthcare facilities with high security standards. Learn more about Power over Ethernet.


Adopting a new IoT framework is one of the biggest IoT challenges in healthcare. Moving a whole facility over to a new system and procedures can take time, and the initial cost of investment and installation can be a barrier, especially for smaller healthcare facilities and rural clinics.

The benefits of IoT in healthcare far outweigh the time and cost investment. IoT healthcare ecosystems result in better care, more streamlined processes, cost savings and many other benefits.


With so many potential types of devices and protocols, integration can seem daunting. In order to get the maximum impact of IoT in healthcare, devices need to be seamlessly connected and simple to automate and control. IoT in medical care falls short if it’s not all connected to a robust IoT platform.

Igor’s PoE-enabled IoT solution is built to work with various systems and connect them together in one simple platform. This gives users a simple, streamlined experience and a single dashboard for controlling every device in the medical IoT ecosystem.


Data collection is one of the biggest IoT challenges in healthcare, but it’s also where the biggest opportunity for enhancement lies. IoT systems produce a lot of data. Before implementing an IoT ecosystem in a healthcare setting, it’s important to discuss the system’s design and priorities for data collection and usage.

Once you’ve discussed the possibilities and identified your priorities, it’s easy to use an IoT ecosystem to generate actionable data reports. There are so many ways to use this type of data to improve the overall healthcare experience.

What effects will IoT have on the future of healthcare?

As IoT in healthcare grows and IoMT devices continue to evolve, we will see healthcare facilities become more advanced, offering better patient outcomes, better experiences for patients and visitors, and improved work environments for physicians.

With more devices and data, we will gain new insights about medical environments, patient care, and treatment options. Access to data will allow doctors to identify trends and discover new aspects of medical care which were previously difficult to understand and utilize.

Ultimately, the impact of IoT in healthcare is just beginning, and many innovative IoMT solutions are on the horizon. To stay up-to-date with the latest IoT news and insights, sign up for our newsletter.

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