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How is the internet of medical things aiding the healthcare sector?


By NIIT Editorial

Published on 20/10/2021

7 minutes

The advancements in technology have brought substantial changes in every sector, boosting the quality of their services, and providing ease to the customers. Similarly, the healthcare sector has been upgraded and aided significantly. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) hub, for that matter, has assisted healthcare organizations in tremendous ways. 

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is connecting all the medical devices and applications to the hospitals’ IT systems via online computer networks. It is machine-to-machine communication through a Wi-Fi connection that equips medical devices. This has led to a substantial reduction in unnecessary hospital visits, in turn, witnessing a diminution in the burden on healthcare systems as it connects the patients with their respective doctors and enabling the transfer of medical data via a secure network.

An analysis by Frost & Sullivan deciphered that the global IoMT market has gained drastic growth. While it was worth $22.5 billion in 2016, it is anticipated to grow up to $72.02 billion by 2021 with a 26.2% of annual growth rate.  

The IoT architectural environment has gained immense popularity in 60% of the global healthcare organizations and the other 27% are anticipated to implement the same. Likewise, the traditional healthcare segment has witnessed a substantial shift because of the digital transformation that has connected the products directly in the customers’ hands while providing access to better healthcare facilities to even the poorest and remote locations.

Furthermore, the IoMT market is divided into different segments. These segments mainly comprise smart devices like wearables, medical monitors that are strictly designed for healthcare use in home, community, clinic settings, telehealth, and other such services. Let’s have a look at some of the segments of the IoMT market.

On-Body Segment

This segment can be further classified into three wearables: consumer health, medical, and clinical grade: 

Consumer health wearables: This type of segment includes consumer-grade devices for personal wellness or fitness. This category of devices (including wristbands, trackers, bands, smart garments, and sports watches) is not under the regulation of health authorities but is generally endorsed by people having expertise in specific health applications and consumer studies. Some of the renowned names in this division are Samsung Medical, Misfit (Fossil group), Withings, and Fitbit.  

Clinical-grade wearables: Regulated devices and supporting platforms that are approved by more than one health authority (like U.S. Food and Drug Administration) come under clinical-grade wearables. These devices are then utilized in conjunction with the help of an expert’s advice or doctor’s prescription. For example, Active Protective’s smart belt helps in detecting falls and ensures hip protection for elders. Similarly, the Halo Sport headset by Halo Neuroscience is worn during workouts to stimulate the areas of the brain that regulates strength, endurance, and muscle memory. Quell by Neurometrix is a neuromodulation device that calms the sensory nerves and provides pain relief. 

In-Home Segment

Personal emergency response systems (PERS), telehealth virtual visits, and remote patient monitoring (RPM) are included in the list of in-home segments. 

Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS): A PERS consists of wearable devices or relay units along with a live medical call center facility that is apt for the homebound or senior citizens. This package enables the user to communicate with the patients immediately and provide immediate healthcare. 

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): RPM is an aid for people having chronic diseases. It encompasses all such home monitoring IoT devices, sensors that include constant monitoring of physiological parameters for supporting the chronic patients and ensure to make the disease progression slow. Moreover, RPM also assists in acute home monitoring to guarantee constant observation of discharged patients to regulate their recovery time. Medication management is also one of the important uses of RPM that allows the patients to understand their doses and have medication reminders. 

Telehealth Virtual Visits: This segment involves virtual consultations for those patients that can’t visit the hospital. Healthcare providers can manage their patients’ conditions by providing them with prescriptions/recommended care plans online. Also, consulting or getting the symptoms evaluated along with digital tests can be availed by the patients. 

Community Segment

This segment is divided into five components:

- Mobility services: This component regulates the tracking of health parameters by the passenger vehicles in transit.

- Emergency response intelligence: This is devised to provide aid to the first responders and care providers at the hospital emergency department. 

- Kiosks: These physical structures often come with touchscreen displays that assist in dispensing products or offer services like connectivity to the healthcare providers. 

- Point-of-care devices: These medical devices are generally used by the healthcare providers apart from the clinic or hospital settings as a medical camp.

- Logistics: This involves the transportation and delivery of all the essential healthcare goods and services such as medical and surgical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and other medical equipment that are necessary for the healthcare providers. 

Sensors in pharmaceutical shipments measuring humidity, shock, and tilt; end-to-end visibility solutions that help in tracking personalized medicines for patients with specific diseases. 


In-Clinic Segment

This segment comprises IoMT devices that are deployed for administrative or clinical functions. Point-of-care devices are generally different from the ones that are in the community segment. The healthcare provider can choose to work remotely, and the qualified staff can use the device instead of physically using the device on their own. 

In-Hospital Segment  

The in-hospital segment is further bifurcated into IoMT devices and a huge group of solutions in various management niche: 

- Asset Management: It tracks and monitors the posh capital equipment and mobile assets. For example wheelchairs, infusion pumps, etc. 

- Personnel management: It records the productivity and efficiency of the entire staff. 

- Patient flow management: This helps in improving the facility operations by eliminating bottlenecks and boosting the patient’s experience. 

 For instance: From the monitoring of the patient's arrival to shifting them to the wardroom, all this process should be smooth. 

- Inventory management: This management segment ensures the reduction in inventory costs and improvement in staff efficiency by streamlining the order, consumables, storage, and usage of hospital supplies and medical devices.

- Innovate devices: These devices include a wearable defibrillator by Zoll. This helps in continuously monitoring the patients that have the risk of contracting ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation. The hand hygiene compliance system by Stanley Healthcare integrates an occupancy sensor and a real-time location system receiver that can track the employees’ identity with the help of a dispenser and can determine the employees’ hygiene protocol by using analytics. 

Potential of IoT in Healthcare

The capabilities of IoMT have more accuracy in diagnosing, committing fewer mistakes, and lowering the overall costs. This technology is paired with smartphone applications and the patients can easily send their health-related information to their respective doctors and can eventually take aid to diagnose, treat and prevent chronic illness. 

A study conducted by the researchers of Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre and UCLA has proved that the activity trackers of the Fitbit can more precisely help in evaluating and recording the heartbeat of patients with ischemic heart disease. This is the reason why health intelligence has reported 88% of healthcare providers are keen on investing in remote patient monitoring solutions.  

This type of technology is not only helping to improve the patient experience by eliminating the need for non-virtual medical visits but it’s also helping in the reduction of costs. Goldman Sachs is one such example. They have anticipated that IoMT will save $300 billion of expenditures annually by mainly monitoring patients remotely and improving medication adherence.  

Furthermore, IoMT has also been a boon for drug management as the “smart pills” have been introduced. These comprise microscopic sensors and once they are swallowed, they can transmit the respective data to the connected devices. Companies like Proteus Discover have shifted their focus to explore their smart pill capabilities for measuring the effectiveness of the medication treatment and eventually improving the clinical outcomes. 

Conclusion

With all the above being said, it can be deciphered that IoMT is well-positioned for growth. There is several data to back up this fact. A report by AllTheResearch stated that the IoMT market flourished in 2018 at the value of $44.5 billion and 2018 and is anticipated to grow up to $254.2 billion by the year 2026. Similarly, smart variable device segment 5 empty that includes smartwatches also and sincerely done smart shirts contributed as one of the largest shares in the global market of 2018. Therefore, this IoMT segment is fully charged to grow with the aid of artificial intelligence that is embedded in the devices and is proved to be capable of giving real-time and remote measurement analysis of the patient’s data.

Not only this, the IoMT system is expanding its reach towards other technologies like Kiosks as well. These Kiosks offer connectivity to the healthcare providers and will support them in treating the patients remotely which has been an escalating need for the people in rural communities. Their struggle for recruiting and retaining medical specialists is not unknown. Hence, regardless of the patient’s location or condition – they will not be deprived of immediate consultation and treatment, all thanks to IoMT.



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