How the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is Changing Healthcare
You may have heard of the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it helps to connect and power our lives, from fitness trackers to traffic lights to the ability to turn on our home security systems from anywhere. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is having just as big of an impact across the pharmaceutical and medical communities. Internet-connected devices are now commonly used in hospitals and doctors offices, from blood pressure monitors to MRI scanners. More and more medical organizations are turning to the Internet of Medical Things to lower healthcare costs, simplify operations, and improve accuracy. This changes the traditional model of healthcare for both healthcare providers and patients, but what exactly is IoMT, and how is the medical community utilizing it?
What is IoMT?
IoMT, or the Internet of Medical Things, is an infrastructure of connected medical devices, software applications, and health systems and services. This connects information technology systems using networking technologies. With the use of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and radio transmission, internet connectivity is making device-to-cloud and device-to-device communication easier than ever.
The Internet of Medical Things and the Medical World
IoMT has the ability to transform the medical world because of how efficiently it can collect, analyze, and transmit health data. Combining internet-connected medical devices with patient data changes how the medical industry can perform and deliver outcomes. Not only does this improve care within the walls of hospitals, but also when patients are remotely receiving care. When paired with smartphone applications, IoMT technology enables patients to track and transmit their health data to providers in real time. These medical apps allow for closer monitoring of health issues, such as recording cardiovascular activity.
Stronger data can lead to more accurate diagnoses and customized care, as well as lower healthcare costs and better communication between patients and providers. Over a secure network, patients can utilize IoMT devices to securely transfer their medical data to healthcare providers, reducing unnecessary office or hospital visits and lessening the overall burden on staff and facilities.
IoMT Devices and Market Segments
The medical IoT market includes several primary segments.
On-body wearables are divided into two subsegments: consumer health wearables and clinical-grade wearables. The former consists of consumer-grade personal wellness devices, such as activity trackers, wristbands, and smart garments. These devices tend to not be regulated by health authorities. Clinical-grade wearables, however, included regulated, certified, approved-for-use devices. These IoMT devices tend to require a prescription and ongoing evaluation by a qualified provider. An example of a clinical-grade wearable is a neuromodulation device which can manipulate sensory nerves to ease chronic pain, a hugely valuable innovation for pain sufferers.
Many have experienced virtual remote care this past year through online telehealth appointments. Virtual visits allow doctors to consult with and evaluate patients through video observation, providing prescriptions and care plans remotely.
Personal emergency response systems (PERS) are another form of in-home care. This includes wearable devices and relay units that alert medical call centers should the wearer experience a medical emergency, such as falling. This is particularly beneficial for those with limited mobility who live alone or with others who also experience limitations.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) consists of any remote monitoring device or sensor used to manage chronic illness. This technology can continuously monitor physiological parameters and help manage medications and dosing.
Emergency response intelligence is used by first responders and emergency departments within hospitals.
Point-of-care (POC) diagnostic devices are used to obtain diagnostic results outside of a traditional laboratory setting by collecting and analyzing patient specimens while with the patient or close to the patient, in settings such as a doctor’s office or outpatient treatment location.
Logistics devices enable proper transporting of healthcare goods. This could include items such as pharmaceuticals or surgical supplies. In these situations, IoMT is utilized to measure and manage temperature, humidity, and more when transporting medical items. It can also be used to track the location of medical items when delivery is urgently needed.
Kiosks often feature touchscreen displays and can dispense medical products or allow users to virtually connect to care providers.
In-Clinic and In-Hospital Use
The in-clinic segment involves Internet of Things medical devices used for administrative or clinical functions, such as cloud-based examination platforms. In-house IoMT device use includes several subsegments.
Asset management devices track high-value hospital equipment and assets throughout the facility.
Patient flow management intelligence optimizes workflow within facilities to prevent patient bottlenecking, ensuring each patient experiences needed providers and treatments in a smooth, timely manner.
Inventory management technology streamlines ordering, storage and use of hospital supplies, consumables, and pharmaceuticals to reduce inventory costs.
Environment and energy-monitoring intelligence oversees electricity usage and manages environments in which patients and supplies are stored.
What Challenges Are There for IoMT Integration?
In any industry, IoT collects a high volume of data – IoMT is no different. For the medical industry, the need to protect this data is of the utmost importance. Patients’ diagnoses and treatment details, among other data, are highly sensitive, requiring strong security against the cyberattacks networks can experience. This need for superior security is one priority that must be top of mind with every innovation.
Cost is another IoMT challenge. While IoMT can save patients and healthcare providers money in the long run, the upfront costs can be a hurdle. Smart devices, remote patient monitoring systems, and onsite medical equipment for offices requires an investment not all can afford. As IoMT becomes more common and proves more value, solutions to combat these costs will have to be determined.
What does the Internet of Medical Things Future Look Like?
According to a Deloitte study, the market for connected medical devices is predicted to grow to $52.2 billion by the end of 2022. This widespread adoption of IoMT technology will undoubtedly change the traditional healthcare model to offer more patient-centered care. Better collection and use of health data will not only improve care for individuals, but the utilization of this data will allow for research that can better serve all patients.
The future of IoMT will allow for earlier interventions, avoidance of hospitalizations, and more healthcare options for those in remote locations. The shift to IoMT isn’t coming. It’s already here, providing the most cutting edge possibilities and outcomes for both providers and patients.
Gilero can aid in the design & development or contract manufacturing of electromechanical medical & drug delivery devices, including IoT devices. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities!
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