The intersection of the Internet of Things and Healthcare (IoT) has become so prominent that it has earned its own acronym: IoMT or the Internet of Medical Things. The IoMT encompasses and connects medical devices, health systems, healthcare applications and services, revolutionizing the ways that we approach patient care and manage healthcare data. From patient monitoring to advanced analysis, IoMT software and sensors provide healthcare professionals with greater insight and oversight, ultimately improving medical services and the overall quality of healthcare.
IoMT Benefits for Healthcare
The IoMT has provided many benefits for healthcare, with key benefits falling into broader categories of care, including monitoring, tracking and treatment management.
Many people utilize wearable healthcare devices, whether it is to improve fitness, track vitals or monitor chronic medical conditions.
|Statista reports: Since 2010, Fitbit has sold over 105 million devices worldwide and has close to 30 million active users.
Dexcom is an example of an IoMT wearable, as a continuous glucose monitoring system. The device connects to a wearer’s smartphone and provides a pain-free alternative to fingersticks for those with diabetes.
Wearables often assist with Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). RPM allows doctors or other medical professionals to collect data from their patients for later analysis. Clinicians and healthcare providers utilize this data to offer improved, personalized and more efficient care, ranging from sleep monitoring to heart monitoring and beyond. This sensor data empowers patients to go about their lives normally with greater assurance that they are staying on top of their health and can respond quickly if a medical problem arises.
Geriatric Care Devices
Another benefit of IoT for healthcare is IoT devices that offer supportive care for the elderly. A growing market, IoMT devices and sensors help those who are aging to remain independent for longer. Fall alert necklaces and other fall detection devices can help mitigate the danger of falling when no one is around, particularly if the person lives alone.
Healthcare monitoring devices allow family members and caregivers to check in on their elderly relatives and intervene when necessary. Home care monitoring systems feature sensors on doors and rooms with frequent activity to ensure that inhabitants are moving around and following their daily routine as usual. Some can also be used to alert monitors of visitors to ensure the safety of elderly family members.
IoMT for Treatment Management/Administration
Remote home healthcare monitoring can reduce the average number of patient care visits, helping families to save money on healthcare costs. They are particularly helpful for those with chronic conditions but treatment management devices can be used for both long-term care (LTC) and short-term care.
Whether for medical treatments or daily vitamins, IoT devices can track whether medication has been taken, how many pills are left and generate reminders that are sent to a connected smartphone. This data can either be monitored by family members or healthcare professionals. Other devices monitor the patient themselves to determine whether medication has been taken. IoMT sensors can also help monitor patient vital signs in real time.
|Tech Fact: Digital health, telemedicine and IoT for healthcare were all brought front and center this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Business Insider, digital health startups in the U.S. secured just over $3B in the first quarter of 2020. The IoT is seen as a key contributor to reducing healthcare costs in the U.S. and worldwide.
IoMT Devices Security and Privacy Concerns
The healthcare industry places a big emphasis on patient privacy and the protection of personal information, which can be a challenge for the development of medical devices. While technology improves healthcare in a lot of ways — from personalized care to increased efficiency and more informed treatment options — a common question is how far is too far? The implications of innovative technologies become much more real when it comes to personal health and medical information.
In 2017, the FDA approved Proteus, a pill with a tiny ingestible sensor that tracks whether patients took their medication and informs doctors of patients’ activity levels. The company is currently refocusing their efforts after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year. The benefits of this medication adherence technology is still being researched, but the idea of ingesting tiny IoT sensors has been met with mixed reviews. While some balk at the idea of ingesting a tiny IoT sensor, others appreciate the increased involvement of their physician during treatments.
IoT devices also have their own challenges when it comes to keeping network connections secure. Any IoMT security vulnerabilities leave medical devices open to hacking and malware which can cripple medical care if not addressed. Increased vigilance, network segmentation, security patching and keeping software up to date are a few ways that the healthcare industry can help to safeguard their tools and patient data.
Develop a Healthcare Mobile App or Custom Software Solution
The Internet of Medical Things is revolutionizing healthcare in many ways, helping medical professionals connect with their patients and improve their quality of care. As the industry continues to grow, we’ll see the development of new healthcare technologies with increased attention on security.
If your business is interested in developing a technology healthcare solution, the team at 7T is ready to help. We have experience developing mobile apps and custom software for the healthcare industry. Our most recent healthcare client, MPower, developed a secure tablet app to help medical professionals leverage data analytics in the operating room. If you’re ready to discuss your development project, fill out the form below or reach out to 7T today.