Connected Medical Devices: The Rise of Smart Health Solutions
Innovation is a hallmark of the medtech industry. As connected technology becomes more intertwined in our daily lives, it only makes sense that more medical products capable of internet connectivity will enter the market. The number of connected medical devices in the market is expected to increase exponentially over the next decade as more providers are turning to connected health solutions to enhance patient care.
What Are Connected Medical Devices?
Connected medical devices are medical devices that are capable of connecting to the internet through WiFi, Bluetooth, or radio transmission. These medical devices have digital capabilities beyond the basic function of diagnosing, treating, curing, or preventing disease, allowing them to integrate with, and connect to, other networks and systems. Some electromechanical medical devices like imaging machines, clinician-monitored wearable fitness trackers, and automated drug delivery devices are examples of connected medical devices.
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
To understand connected medical devices, it’s important to understand the Internet of Medical Things. Also known as IoMT, the Internet of Medical Things is a connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, and healthcare information technology systems and services. The IoMT connects data (patient information or performance data), people (patients, clinicians, and caregivers) and processes (healthcare delivery and patient support) with the help of connected medical devices and medical mobile applications.
The Benefits of Connected Medical Devices
Connected medical devices and the IoMT offer a number of direct benefits to patients and providers within the healthcare industry.
- Real-Time Patient Monitoring: Connected devices can monitor patient behavior in real-time and transmit that data directly to care providers. This data tracking can happen in the hospital or in home healthcare settings. In hospitals, the high number of patients means that constant monitoring isn’t always possible. Smart patient monitoring systems provide nurses and doctors with updates and alerts of vital patient information like heart rate and oxygen saturation without requiring them to continually visit a patient’s room. Take-home versions of connected devices can monitor patient symptoms and diagnostics while sharing that data with care providers, allowing for better home monitoring and potentially reducing the need for follow-up visits.
- More Personalized Care: With consistent and accurate patient data, physicians can make better, more personalized decisions about patient care. As physicians gain insights into patient behavior, they can track the effectiveness of certain therapies and make adjustments as needed. For example, a doctor may prescribe a medication that comes in a container with an embedded sensor, recording how often the bottle is opened and at what time. This will let the provider know how often medication is being accessed and can lead to greater medication compliance.
- Increased Safety: Connected devices and the IoMT may make it possible to predict device malfunctions before they happen or before they cause serious adverse events. Through cloud-connectivity, these devices can be surveilled more effectively by manufacturers and technical teams. Early warning alerts can be issued if something may be wrong, allowing the potential problem to be addressed before it becomes a large-scale outage or takes critical systems offline.
The Future of Connected Devices in Medtech
The global IoT in healthcare market is expected to grow 21% between 2020 and 2025, and it’s estimated that the medical device segment currently holds the biggest share of this market. The penetration of connected medical devices in a variety of areas within the healthcare industry, a growing preference among clinicians for real-time data monitoring, and a need for digital healthcare solutions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are all contributing factors to the rise in connected medtech and IoMT. Technological advancements will continue driving the development of more connected medical devices that can generate, collect, analyze, share, and store valuable health data.