Healthcare and agriculture are two essential industries that have a direct impact on global health. Simply, without healthy crops, we can’t feed and nourish ourselves. Without healthcare, we can’t access experts who can help us prevent, diagnose, treat, and/or manage illnesses, conditions, and injuries. And there is no question that in both industries, accuracy is also incredibly important.
For instance, in healthcare, medical errors can cost human life, and it doesn’t get any more costly than that. A study by Johns Hopkins suggests medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., making up 10% of all U.S. deaths. That’s a jaw dropping statistic.
Analyzing medical death-rate data throughout an eight-year period in the U.S., Johns Hopkins experts calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year were due to medical errors.
Meanwhile, in agriculture, miscalculations that cost farmers, growers, and producers in terms of crop yield can lead to waste and, in some situations, food shortages that aggravate malnutrition and hunger in certain populations or regions. Since chemical application is involved in agriculture, errors in applying too much or too little of these chemicals can also impact food safety.
Since agriculture impacts the planet both directly and indirectly, the ways farmers use land and other resources impact the health of the planet and all of its residents. Overwatering, under-watering, over-application of fertilizer and pesticides, and under-application of fertilizer and pesticides must all be dialed in to protect crops, land, and water.
Thankfully, in both healthcare and agriculture, technology is being used to address the need for improved accuracy and smaller margins for error.
Sensors can be worn by patients and fixed in fields to give decisionmakers the precise realtime data they need to take just-in-time action. Knowing precisely when to act can help improve patient outcomes and maximize crop yields.
What’s more, smart devices can administer correct dosages of medication or fluid to a patient, reducing the opportunity for human error. Smart devices can also apply water, fertilizer, weed killer, or a pest deterrent to crops or fields on an as-needed basis, similarly reducing the opportunity for human oversight or error.
Data analytics are also important in both realms.In healthcare, big data and analytics can help us get the big picture on health trends, which can prompt action and even lead to predictive insights.
In agriculture, big data and analytics can help farmers consider historic and realtime data about weather patterns, pest infestations, and crop diseases to not only respond to current situations but prevent them from developing in the first place.
Thus, interestingly, there are several parallels between these two industries. And there are similarities in the ways they’re using the IoT (Internet of Things) to solve some of their biggest challenges. Taking it a step further, one might even say the two industries are also inextricably linked to one another.
If you think about it, agriculture’s purpose is more than just producing food. Agriculture’s ultimate purpose is to nourish people so they can lead healthy and productive lives. The reality, though, is agriculture can pose major threats to our health. Threats range from food shortages to pesticide poisoning, diseases like malaria that can be linked to irrigation, and zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted from livestock to humans.
These threats are a big reason there’s such a huge movement right now to track food all the way from the source—agricultural fields—to the point of purchase by consumers.
Basically, we’re tracking food from “field to fork,” as they say, and creating visibility and accountability all the way up the value chain. Transparency is being demanded by consumers in so many contexts, and in both agriculture and healthcare, the IoT is being used to make processes more transparent.
But, how are the two industries tied together? The actions farmers and growers take can directly impact the health of the people who rely on their agricultural products. Therefore, agriculture affects the healthcare system by keeping people nourished and healthy or, in some cases, making them ill. And thus, without a strong food supply, the world suffers greatly.
Thankfully, the use of technology in agriculture is improving food safety by leaps and bounds. Technology, and more importantly, the IoT, is disseminating important realtime data and it drastically is shaping the future of food. During the month of June we will take a greater look at exploring healthcare and, particularly, aging in place. It’s a fact the global population is aging.
In the near future, the number of retirement-age individuals will surpass the number of children globally and in the U.S., this demographic shift will prompt the need for changes in our healthcare system. Only time will tell just what that means for all of us.
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