IT Enabling Industry 4.0 in Health Sector

IT Enabling Industry 4.0 in Health Sector

Health care sector has always been of the immense importance for human kind. IT based technologies such as IoT, block chain, cloud computing and AI are making health care sector more effective than ever before. These technologies are used for improving the IoT monitoring systems, measuring various quantities quickly, cloud-based record management, fast communication and fast transfer of data from one place to another. 

Nowadays, health care support is also provided by these advanced technologies. They are playing a notable role in the health care sector by reducing time, costs, and by providing better solutions. 

We have discussed in previous articles that how these technologies enabled industry 4.0 in manufacturing sector. Let’s have a look at how are these technologies enabling the industry 4.0 model in health care sector. 

IoT and Big Data Analytics in Health Care

In health care sector, IoT technology is used mainly as a bridge between the patient and medical facility. It allows patient to monitor themselves and then electronically transfer the collected data to physician. This is all done by the use of electronically and digitally connected devices and sensors. These sensors collect and transmit data, and then Big data analytics translate the data into actionable form and sends it to the physician. 

Moreover, this technique is also used as an alternative to the appointment system. Now patients don’t need to book appointments manually, the digital systems will autonomously book the appointment taking in account the availability from physician’s end. 

Another use of IoT is application of smart watches and smart glasses. Smart watches can measure heart rate, pulse rate, steps while walking; calories burnt while a certain exercise, and much more. These devices comprise of wireless sensors that send data to a central server where the patient can see the results. 

Another application is IoT based disposable patches.  These patches such as iRythm, BP monitor, Biostamp are generally worn for a couple of days or weeks under certain medical conditions. ACN (Australian Centre of Nano medicine) has created a similar patch that informs the wearer about their exposure to UV rays. 

This is just a rain drop; there is huge ocean of IoT and big data applications in the health care sector. 

Blockchain technology in Health care sector

The traditional security methods of securing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) made it difficult for the patient to access these reports. But now, the new blockchain-based methods are being introduced to keep EHRs secure and accessible at the same time. This allows patients, health service providers and third parties to access data using the blockchain framework. 

Blockchain has also been proven a viable solution in matters such as billing and claims where data leaks can cause a huge tension. It is used as a platform for sharing information related to the important matters and to hold their record. 

Blockchain also facilitates the patients to share their medical history with other service providers or organizations. Hence makes it easier to switch to some other health professional by just sharing a private key generated by the framework. 

This technology also helps in tracking and monitoring the medical supplies providing more security with full transparency. If connected with the IoT systems of a medical factory, blockchain can even be used for monitoring labor costs and carbon emissions during the manufacturing process. 

Another use of blockchain in health sector is raising nowadays i.e. the companies working on DNA sequencing. These companies are always at a threat of the important genomic data being theft. Blockchain is the best solution to them as it prevents data theft and makes it impossible to steal or replace the data. Also, the framework provides these companies an online marketplace where scientists and medical researchers can buy genomic information for experimentation purposes. 

AI in Health care sector

AI has always proven to be the backbone of the fourth industrial revolution ranging from manufacturing to the health care sector. Recently, AI based systems has been used during the pandemic for both doctors and patients. VR technology was used to reduce the risk for doctors to be infected. 

AI also helps in finding the problems that the patient is facing in any emergency situation by the use of smart interconnected sensors. In China, AI based video monitoring systems are still in use to observe the activities and behavior of the people affected by COVID-19 and to learn the ways to stop and cure this pandemic. 

Some other applications of AI in health care sectors are:

  • It is used for monitoring medical supplies across various facilities. 
  • It is used to perform CT scans during the pandemic reducing the risk of being infected by the virus.
  • During pandemic, AI systems are being used to monitor the gatherings and to make sure that people are following the safety protocols to avoid spread of virus. 
  • AI provides a platform for secure sharing of information related to patient’s medical history, billing, claims, insurance etc among different organizations. 

Cloud Computing in Health care sector

Cloud computing technology has solved the problem of the small organizations that did not have enough resources to afford super computers for storage and data sharing purposes. Cloud computing allows access to patient’s information, doctor’s information, information related to different hospitals, and health organizations at anytime and anywhere.   Due to cloud computing, hospitals and health organizations do not need to buy huge hardware systems and servers for storage purposes, they just need a cloud platform and it gives them a huge storage capacity. This also helps the organizations to avoid huge costs related to maintaining and operating the hardware. 

Some other benefits of cloud computing for health care sector are:

  • It is a flexible platform and the organizations do not need to worry about shifting or moving this system.
  • It also serves as a bridge to connect the smart systems in pharmaceutical factories by connecting the sensors and digital devices to the main server.
  • It is easier and quicker to add new servers to increase storage capacity and can be done instantly. 
  • Cloud computing is still in trials in most cases due to security risks. As it is an open-end source, so the threat of data stealing always remains. That’s why; many companies are ignoring cloud computing till now. Yet there is room for improvement. Now, private clouds are being developed for secret and sensitive information. Companies are investing in cloud computing to make it more secure and better. 

It is IT that is revolutionizing every sector of life by providing the advanced and smart technologies. Health car has always been a sensitive issue and IT has proven itself here as well. Yet, there is a lot to improve and let’s see how developers bring these improvements and lead us to the next industrial revolution.

Challenges in Enabling Industry 4.0

The challenges towards enabling industry 4.0 and their possible solutions

IT is undoubtedly the backbone of industrial revolution. It is IT that will decide the future industrial revolutions starting from industry 4.0 and onwards. Some experts say that the IT systems have already enabled the industry 4.0 completely and now we are headed towards the next industrial revolution. Yet the others say that there is still room for improvements in existing model which means the industry 4.0 cannot be marked complete until it meets the security standards. 

Such deficiencies and improvements are worth discussing and that’s why we are here to discuss all these challenges that are a hurdle in the way of completing the vision industry 4.0 and the possible solutions to address these challenges. 

It is said,

“Any problem comes, but not without a solution”

Similar is the case with this advanced IT based system. 

So, without wasting time, let’s have a look at what can be done to tackle the challenges we already discussed in the previous article. 

Challenge # 1

Data sharing in a competitive environment

Integration of IT systems to enable industry 4.0 allows the data sharing in a highly competitive environment which makes online business environment transparent. This transparent business ecosystem means an environment that is vulnerable to cyber-attacks, spying, stealing data and illegal access to the important business files. 

Possible solution

Organizations need to recreate the existing business models and devise new business strategies to address this challenge. 

The possible solution to this transparent environment until this day is that the small organizations must consider the markets with low competition where they can allocate their maximum resources instead of placing their sources and data in an intense market competition where their data will be more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and the threat of being out of competition due to the presence of big companies in the intense market.  

Challenge # 2

Incomplete implementation of industry 4.0 is dangerous

Some small companies are trying to transition to industry 4.0 models on their existing machinery or equipment which results in complicated processes and bigger costs that small industries cannot handle easily. 

Possible Solution:

Total transition of industry 4.0 is necessary. The incomplete transition prevents companies from being successful in market. Thus, small companies must consider full transition if not possible today, they may wait and implement it later.

Challenge # 3

Low degree skills will be out of the job

Industry 4.0 model is based on the idea that the low degree skills are to be performed by machines and robots. Which means, the employees with low degree of skills would be ignored unless they acquire advanced skills that the machines or AI systems cannot perform. 

Possible Solution:

Finding the employees with advanced skills to implement industry 4.0 is a big challenge. To address this challenge, the companies must consider training their existing labor to acquire the needed advanced skills. 

This is the most budget and time friendly solution to this challenge. It will also allow companies to have a disciplined training system that they can use to train labor of other small companies and charge them a good amount instead.  

Challenge # 4

Socio technical challenges

The implementation of IT to enable industry 4.0 may result in:

  1. Polarization of jobs.
  2. The favor that the labor deserves would be shifted to the capital. 
  3. An increased monopolization.
  4. Technical unemployment due to lack of skilled labor.
  5. Increase in ecological fears for population.

Possible Solution:

The industry 4.0 is undoubtedly a socio-technical system. To address the above-mentioned challenges, the joint integration of socio-technical system is required. This can be made possible by training the labor to develop tolerance for machines and design and operate the IT systems in labor friendly way. This can be done in the same way as we talked earlier i.e., training programs should be held to optimize the socio-technical environment within the industry. 

A socio-technical system must have following characteristics for successful implementation of industry 4.0:

  • System must contain interdependent parts.
  • System must have an internal environment consisting of separate but interdependent social and technical subsystems.
  • Joint optimization of social and technical subsystems decides the performance of this system. If one subsystem is favored and is given more resources, it means the other is ignores thus the system will crash. Hence it must be designed in a way that both get equal opportunities. 

Challenge # 5

Cyber security

The implementation of industry 4.0 model means putting the important data on online and transparent platform where there is always risk of cyber-attack remains. 

Cyber security is the backbone for implementing the industry 4.0, otherwise, the lack of proper security system will eventually cause businesses to crash. 

Possible Solution:

The companies can consider following points to prevent themselves from cyber-attacks:

  • Companies must use operating systems that offer automatic updates. Keeping software UpToDate and installing them in patches will cause cyber attackers to not take any advantage of system’s established problems or vulnerabilities. 
  • Companies must have strong passwords and keys to access their systems. It is estimated that 63% of cyber-attacks are successful because of weak passwords. So, creating a strong password and changing it constantly within specific intervals can help companies prevent cyber-attacks. 
  • Companies must consider MFA tool. MFA (Multifactor authentication) uses two identity components to allow access to a system. This makes the system more secure even if the attacker knows the password.