A patient’s heart monitor sends an alert to a physician that her arrhythmia is back.
A senior forgets to take their prescribed medication on time, and a devices helps remind them to take it and also documents what time they took it.
A man’s implanted device monitors blood glucose symptoms and delivers a corrective insulin stimulus, alerting the physician simultaneously.
All of these examples are the epitome of the “Internet of Medical Things” (IoMT). The Internet of Medical Things refers to an ecosystem of medical devices and applications that collect data that is then provided to healthcare IT systems through online computer networks. Wi-Fi enabled devices are a catalyst for machines to communicate and link to cloud platforms for data storage. The “Internet of Things” (IoT) has influenced several industries, and the healthcare field is no exception. The medical industry across the board has gradually started to enter the integrated world of IoT.
IoMT covers a broad spectrum, such as wearabledevices, remote patient monitoring, sensor-enabled hospital beds and infusion pumps, medication-tracking systems, medical supply and equipment inventory tracking. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are being implemented across the United States in healthcare facilities; patients have access to online portals to obtain their own records. Doctors can also now digitally prescribe medication and upload it directly to the patient’s pharmacy for pick-up. Additionally, portable diagnostic devices can make routine blood and urine tests easier on our aging population—where mobility is more challenging and who need to take these tests more often.
Benefits to Patients
IoMT can improve patient diagnoses. This is possible through connected devices — allowing data collection for analytics — and patients that benefit from the data down the road. Almost 60% of healthcare providers are utilizing IoMT devices – and they’re reporting improved patient care, according to a Frost & Sullivan study. Wearable healthcare devices and healthcare apps allow patients and their medical providers stay in touch.
IoMT devices can also make operations more efficient for healthcare workers, who are often simultaneously caring for a number of patients. Ironing out processes and improving efficiency decreases the burden for health workers while increasing the quality of care they can give.
One of the most obvious and popular applications of healthcare and the IoT is in remote health monitoring — sometimes known as “telehealth.” In some instances, patients don’t even have to visit an ER or be admitted to a hospital.
If a person has restricted mobility, or needs to utilize public transportation, remote monitoring can be priceless for patients. Not only does this reduce costs, but it spares them the inconvenience of being away from home.
The IoMT can help monitor and notify not only caregivers, but give healthcare providers real data to pinpoint issues prior to a desperate situation and allow for invention earlier.
There are even safeguards in place for remote healthcare tools. For example, a new IoT-driven solution from Philips, is called “e-Alert.” Instead of waiting for a device to fail, Philips’ system takes a proactive approach by virtually monitoring medical hardware and alerting hospital staff members if there’s a problem.
Patient Compliance & Reporting
One of the biggest concerns of IoMT is adherence to doctor’s directions. IoMT isn’t intended to substitute healthcare providers, but to provide them with the data gathered from devices for better diagnoses and treatment plans. Healthcare facilities also currently use the IoMT to help with streamlining workflow, overseeing inventory and medical device integration.
A connected IoMT device provides objective reporting of authentic occurrences. Without these findings, providers must rely on subjective patient reports based on their memory and feelings alone.
IoMT devices help monitor patient behavior and activity from a distance so the provider will have actual data to refer to regarding compliance to treatment recommendations and what ensues after a patient leaves the healthcare premises.
It’s Personal…and Here to Stay
Although today’s modern technology can sometimes get a bad rap (i.e. a nurse is too busy to have eye contact because they’re completing medical notes on an iPad), the reality is that IoMT can actually offer more personalized healthcare for each individual patient. From creating customized therapy plans, to determining care guidelines based on the unique situation of a patient.
There’s no doubt that IoMT is here to stay, and will continue to evolve as technology continues to advance.
Stay tuned for our next blog in the upcoming weeks— we will elaborate on the future of IoMT and what to expect.