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Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): New Era in Healthcare Industry

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): New Era in Healthcare Industry

Overview

Tech, especially emerging technology is transforming our lives in ways which no one could think of a few years ago. Be it security, marketplaces, banking, finance or retail, it is providing smart solutions for every sector. One such sector is healthcare and tech is making lives simpler by reducing the need for unnecessary hospital visits. We are leveraging the true power of Internet of Things (IoT) to remove the burden of health care systems by allowing patients to connect with their medical consultants for transferring the medical data in a secure environment.

IoMT stands for the Internet of Medical Things and it’s a combination of medical devices and applications that can connect all the healthcare information technology systems through networking technologies. It’s a very big market that was reported to have a worth of 22.5 billion USD in 2016 and it’s expected to become a $136.8 billion industry by 2021.

Medical devices can collect, analyze and send data across the web using this technology. It can connect both, digital such as heart monitor and non-digital devices like patient beds to the internet. IoMT will transform the future of the healthcare industry by providing the world with smart digital solutions at the ease of comfort of the consumers.

Where is IoMT compared to IoT?

Most healthcare companies are using IoT devices and trying to strategize their use. Almost 70% of such organizations are using it to monitor patients and maintain records. Patient monitoring is the largest application of IoT with 64% of usage. Keeping medical data records safe and secure is very important but the industry isn’t completely tamper-proof and hence it will take some more to adapt to Internet of Things (IoT).

On the other hand, if we look at IoMT, it has an upper hand in the security scenario. It has smart solutions that include endpoint security, internal segmentation, better policies to authenticate the users, and real-time monitoring which makes leaves lesser chances of data breaches.

Apart from the security issues, the size of both markets differs a lot. IoMT market was valued worth 44,565.6 million USD in 2018 while IoT reached 100 billion in 2017 itself. Both the markets have their own growth rates with IoMT expected to have a worth of 254,233.6 million in 2026 and IoT of 1.6 trillion by 2025.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): What next?

IoMT is making its place in society at a fast pace with 60% of global health care organizations already making use of it and it’s expected to increase by 27% by the end of 2020. Organizations are discarding the conventional methods of medical treatment and moving towards technologically advanced digital solutions that connect the customers or patients to physicians across the globe with full security.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) in Healthcare Industry

IoMT is in its beginning phase where there is a lot scope for its implementation with numerous possibilities. With time it will emerge as a powerful tool in the healthcare industry and will become as familiar as thermometers and stethoscopes. People will see drift and move towards IoMT solutions as it saves time, decreases cost, and increases efficiency.

Areas where IoMT is finding applications

In-Hospitals and Clinics

Hospitals are the largest users of IoMT devices. They are being used for improving healthcare quality while reducing time and cost. Various IoMT applications in hospitals and clinics involve patient monitoring, X-ray machines, CT scans, and smart apps used to connect patients and doctors at remote places. The manufacturer can detect issues (if any) way before the hospital staff and can correct it. Popular companies like GE, Siemens, and Philips are using IoMT for diagnosing, maintenance, and increasing the efficiency of their imaging products.

In-Home

Telemedicine i.e. the medical connectivity technology is allowing healthcare services to reach beyond the hospitals and expands their applications. For instance, Remote Patient Monitoring System (RTM) helps patients suffering from serious diseases to avoid visiting the doctor frequently. It is very beneficial for heart and diabetic patients. These devices can monitor heart activities and glucose levels and can alert the doctor automatically.

On-the-Body

Biosensors are making it possible to design and build wearable medical devices that can monitor the user’s health. They can be embedded in apparel, attached to the skin, or can even be implanted under the skin providing full freedom to patients while keeping a watch on their health.

Health Insurance Companies

IoMT is bringing various people like patients, caregivers, and clinicians together and allows them to perform operations such as monitoring and diagnosis to obtain better outcomes with increased efficiency.

In remote areas

In cases when patients are far away from the physicians, IoMT solutions can be used as a medium to connect them with each other. It not only adds comfort to the healthcare process but also reduces the cost.

Rural area

Small villages where the medical services are not easily accessible, IoMT can prove to be a great tool to help people and treat ailments. With digital solutions harnessing the power of IoMT we can create a better world.

Classification of Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices

Fitness wearables

These are the devices that are meant to be worn by the patients. They have in-built sensors that monitor a patient’s health and collect the data based on his physical activities. These activity trackers can be bands, wristwatches, necklaces, etc i.e. they are lifestyle devices.

Clinical grade wearables

The IoT devices that are certified and approved by the regulatory authority to be used, come under this category. They are generally used at a clinic or home on a doctor’s prescription and are focused to improve chronic conditions and specific diseases. Examples of such devices are smart belts from Active Protect made for elderly patients to detect falls, QardioCore which is a chest strap that records ECG i.e. heart rate.

Remote patient monitoring devices

Devices that are used to monitor a patient from a remote location when the patient can’t visit the doctor regularly. It saves time and provides services at the ease of comfort of the patient. They can be used to send reminders and updated medical plans to patients based on their physical activities.

Smart pills

These pills have ingestible sensors that keep track of the patient’s compliance with medication. They contain drug sensors that get activated on coming in contact with stomach acids. The sensor is connected to a wearable smart device which eventually sends the data to a smartphone via an app integrated into it. Abilify MyCite is a popular example of a smart pill.

Smart pills

Point of care devices and kiosks

They are aimed at bringing healthcare closer to the patients and mark a shift of focus from the doctor to the patient. POCs improve the results and reduce the cost by increasing access to diagnostic and monitoring solutions. Point of care devices and kiosks can be a great tool to treat and diagnose patients living in far off places.

Clinical monitors

They are used to record and store a patient’s details through digital methods and stores them on the cloud so that they can be reviewed, shared or accessed whenever needed. Examples of such devices include digital stethoscopes that can relay and save the heart sounds on a mobile app.

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Advantages of Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

Improved Efficiency

By using digital solutions that are smart, the efficiency gets improved to a greater extent as digital devices are more accurate and consume less time. 

Low Per-Patient Cost

IoMT allows patients to connect with physicians remotely without having the need to visit them which eventually cuts down the cost spent on every visit. Digital solutions can save around 300 billion USD to healthcare. 

Fast Per-Patient Implementation

Fitness devices and sensors integrated with mobile apps allow patients to quickly monitor their health status by saving a lot of time and allowing fast per-patient implementation.

Advantages of Internet of Medical Things

Challenges of Implementing Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

Standardization Issues

Many people who manufacture medical devices, looking to gain scalability and minimize the time consumed. In such a scenario, the standardization of IoMT devices gets difficult. Currently, only 51% of medical device manufacturers and 44% of healthcare organizations follow the set FDA rules and guidelines which affects the overall efficiency of IoMT.

Regulatory Challenges

Whenever a new medical device or an update is introduced in the market, it must get clearance from the FDA. Currently, the collection and storage of patient data are taken care of by regulations like HIPAA but new flexible laws for medical devices are the need of the hour.

High Infrastructure Cost

On a wider picture, IoMT aims at reducing the overall healthcare costs but the implementation of the same costs a lot. Hardware costs, building an app, storage and maintenance costs require a high initial investment which acts as a barrier for IoMT.

Security Vulnerabilities

Patient data is prone to cyber-attacks and various data breaches. The healthcare industry encounters 340% more security issues than any other industry and it’s 200% more susceptible to data theft.

The strain on Existing Networks

How easy would it be if we could just bring IoMT devices to hospitals and connect them with the Wi-fi? But many healthcare institutions don’t have an advanced and robust enough network to integrate IoMT devices and use them. They need to emerge in order to make use of it.

Challenges of Implementing Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

Final Words

The fundamental way of implementing IoMT in the healthcare industry and making the best out of it is by overcoming the aforementioned challenges. Technology is transforming the world with new innovative solutions and it will continue to do so by allowing consumers to implement those solutions in the most effective manner. A lot has been achieved and a lot is yet to come. The future of IoMT in healthcare is bright.

FAQs

What does IoT stand for in healthcare terms?

In terms of healthcare, it can be defined as the amalgamation of monitors, smartwatches and fitness trackers, biosensors and digital solutions like apps to keep track of patients’ health.

What is IoMT?

It’s a submarket of the Internet of Things (IoT) that enables medical devices to collect, analyze, and send data across the Web by using digital solutions. It can connect both, digital such as heart monitor and non-digital devices like patient beds to the internet.

How will wearable IoMT devices transform healthcare?

These devices will facilitate patient monitoring from a remote location along with reducing the need of visiting a physician regularly and will eventually save a lot of money. They will prove to be a good medium for doctors to keep track of the physical activities of the patient and send alerts or updated medical plans.