When you think about it, your most recent healthcare experience probably involved some sort of medical equipment or device – be it a blood pressure monitor, continuous glucose monitor, or MRI scanner. More than 500,000 medical technologies are currently available, with today’s connected devices being designed to improve efficiency, lower costs, and provide better care. As computing power and connectivity improve, organizations are realizing the potential of the Internet of Medical Things.
IoMT tools are rapidly changing many healthcare scenarios with their ability to collect, analyze, and transmit health data.
They are allowing both doctors and patients to track and prevent issues, such as chronic illnesses, and facilitating the provision of effective care even in remote locations.
The IoMT is a connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, and health systems and services. The recent wave of sensor-based tools, such as wearables and stand-alone devices for remote patient monitoring, complemented by the combination of connected medical devices and an abundance of patient information, set the IoMT apart from other IoT applications. Its rise is driven by the increased number of connected medical devices that generate, collect, analyze, and transmit data.
These devices are connected to healthcare provider networks and transmit their data to cloud repositories or internal servers. Due to the nature of IoMT networks, communication security is one of the most important elements to ensuring the preservation of a patient’s privacy and security.
The IoMT is a way to streamline clinical workflow management and ultimately improve patient care, both inside care facilities and in remote areas. It’s expected that IoMT implementation will bring more accurate diagnoses, and fewer mistakes, at lower costs. A study from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA showed that Fitbit devices allowed more accurate evaluations of patients with ischemic heart disease by recording heartrate and movement at the same time.
This exemplifies why most care providers are investing in remote patient monitoring solutions. This technology not only improves patient experience by eliminating the need for frequent check-ins, but it also reduces costs. Goldman Sachs estimates that the IoMT will save the healthcare industry 300 billion dollars annually.
Another example that illustrates some of the IoMT’s many advantages are “smart pills”. They contain microscopic sensors which, once swallowed, transmit data to connected devices. Some companies have focused on measuring medication treatment effectiveness, others use the pills to monitor internal health, collecting and transmitting data such as core temperature.
The IoMT is a very promising area of market growth. It was valued at 44.5 billion dollars in 2018 and is expected to grow more than 500% by 2026. The wearable segment, which includes the common smart watch and more futuristic smart shirts, made up the largest share of the market in 2018. This area is poised for further growth as AI gets integrated into connected devices and will allow real-time measurement and analysis of patient data.
The IoMT is driving progress in remote patient treatment, an ever-growing need for patients in rural communities that often struggle to recruit and retrain medical professionals. In the future even the most remote locations will benefit from better access to care, as connected medical devices continue to find their way into the hands of both patients and clinicians.