Internet of Things

Team Zorg Enablers
Published on
Trends | Prevention and Healthy living


“Everything that can be automated will be automated”

Robert Cannon


All ‘things’ that exchange data mutually are referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) [1-3]. It is not a technology in itself, but rather a collective name for a network of ‘smart’ devices. The IoT facilitates machine-to-human and machine-to-machine communication.


Applications & benefits

From smart activity trackers, scales, blood pressure sensors, pacemakers, domestic equipment to social networks; they are all part of future healthcare. Using these devices, the IoT infrastructure supports monitoring, coaching, compliance and numerous other healthcare processes [4,5]. The IoT makes it possible to collect and analyse healthcare data quickly and accurately, thus improving patient outcomes [6,7].



The IoT is growing. Consumers are connected more than ever before and each have, on average, four devices that are connected with the cloud. Worldwide, 127 new devices are linked to the Internet every second [2]. By 2020, this will be over 50 billion [8]. The global IoT market is expected to grow from 3.9 trillion USD in 2015 to 11.1 trillion USD in 2025 [9] (an annual growth of 11%). Healthcare will account for a market share worth 154 billion USD. The applications are mainly limited to the use of data (including real-time) and small-scale, smart solutions. A number of essential steps will have to be taken before the IoT can be implemented on a large-scale, organisation-wide or system-wide scale [2,9].


Driving forces

The growth of the IoT in healthcare is being driven by the following factors:

  • Increasing connectivity and the number of connected devices [10,11].
  • An increasing shortage of healthcare staff, due partly to an ageing population and increasing healthcare demands [12,13].
  • Technological developments such as Big Data and Cloud Computing are enhancing the potential of the IoT. Furthermore, the sensors used are getting better and smaller, thus increasing the application potential [11,14,15].

Growing connectivity and improved data infrastructure
Increasing pressure on the healthcare system
New technological capabilities

Hindering forces

Increasing emphasis on privacy sensitivity
Limited digital skills
Limiting guidelines, legislation and regulations

Several obstacles must be overcome in order to unlock the full potential of the IoT. The biggest challenge is to be able to offer users both safety and privacy [4,14,16-18]. The complex network in which devices, processes and people communicate with each other makes security difficult. The entire chain must meet the same confidentiality, integrity and accessibility requirements. Maximum potential can only be reached if technical vulnerabilities and human carelessness are minimised [9]. An inadequate digital infrastructure could also be an obstacle in implementing the IoT in healthcare. As of yet there is no standardisation, legislation and regulations, and given that the amount of available data is only increasing, significant investment will be required to achieve or maintain the quality required [16,18-21]. In addition to technological obstacles, human factors also create a potential challenge. How do we use the data? Only a small proportion of the available data is analysed or used for making strategic choices [2].



The IoT will change our system of healthcare through the interaction between people and machines. The analysis of medical outcomes and realisation of solutions will have to be redefined. As well as the shift towards automation, the IoT also offers possibilities to make healthcare more personal and participatory, and the potential to better predict and prevent health problems with the aid of smart systems.


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  8. Statista. Internet of Things (IoT): number of connected devices worldwide from 2012 to 2020
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  13. Grand View Research. Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare Market Analysis By Component (Medical Device, System, Software, Services), By Connectivity Technology (Wi-Fi, ZigBee, NFC, Cellular, Satellite, BLU), By Application (Telemedicine, In patient Monitoring, Clinical Operation, Connected Imaging, Medication Management), By End-Use (Hospitals, Clinics, CRO, Research, Diagnostic Laboratories) And Segment Forecasts To 2022. May 2016
  14. European Police Office. The Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (iOCTA). 2014. The Hague. The Netherlands
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  19. Patel K. 6 benefits of IoT for hospitals and healthcare. 2017
  20. Markets&Markets. IoT Healthcare Market by Components (Medical Device, System and Software, Service, and Connectivity Technology), Application (Telemedicine, Workflow Management, Connected Imaging, Medication Management), NOTES | 82 End-User – Global Forecast to 2020. October 2015
  21. Mesko B. Healthcare is coming home with sensors and algorithms. The Medical Futurist. August 2016
  22. Lüdtke L. en Deerberg-Wittram J. Diabeter: Value-Based Health Care toegepast bij diabetes. BCG en Diabeter. 2016