The Internet Of Medical Things: Its Role In Healthcare And How To Implement It

Evgeniy Altynpara
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Over the past years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has evolved from a progressive but little-studied technology into a reality that surrounds us everywhere. Smart homes and factories, wearables and smart sensors in transport take us to a new level of digitalization. However, there are few industries in which IoT matters as much as it does in healthcare. Often, these devices are responsible not only for the convenience and speed of operations but also for human life.

The totality of these devices and systems where they're involved is called the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). It is increasingly used, covering the entire set of sensors, data processing software and special infrastructure. IoMT helps provide patients with better care as well as optimize clinic processes and financial indicators.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the world of IoMT and its impact on the healthcare industry.

The IoMT: Practical Innovation And 2022 Trends

Since Kevin Ashton first talked about the "Internet of Things" concept, the number of connected devices has grown exponentially. According to Oracle, there are now about 10 billion IoT sensors, and it predicts that by 2025, there will be 22 billion. Deloitte says that the IoMT market will reach $158.1 billion in 2022, and IoMT is called one of the key healthcare trends.

IoMT stands for an infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, services and networks that connect them to the healthcare/telemedicine platforms. In such ecosystems, several layers interact with each other.

• Sensors and data sources (e.g., wearables, infrared and medical sensors for measuring vital signs, infusion pumps) directly capture medical indications.

• Gateways and networks transmit data for further processing. High-speed 4G/5G networks are essential in these processes due to their communication potential.

• Management services/data storage process massive amounts of raw data and extract specific information.

• Applications interpret data and provide specific services—help develop drug protocols, diagnose pathologies, predict disease risk, etc.

How The Medical Industry Benefits From IoMT

IoMT opens up opportunities for fundamental changes in patient care. MedTech institutions can use it to deliver more value, increase customer satisfaction rates and reduce infrastructure costs. Goldman Sachs claims that healthcare organizations save $300 billion annually from remote patient monitoring and other technology benefits.

The integration of clinical software systems and IoMT can also reduce human factor mistakes and create added value by using connected devices to enhance operational efficiency. The interconnection of medical devices and sensors simplifies the management of clinical workflows and makes drug safety monitoring more transparent.

Another benefit is improved telecare quality. IoMT solutions for remote patient monitoring can help make more accurate diagnoses while better tracking and preventing chronic diseases. Patients can use devices combined with mobile apps to send medical information to doctors and monitor their well-being. A Spyglass Consulting Group study found that 88% of healthcare providers are already invested in these technologies due to their high efficiency.

Determining Whether Your Business Is Ready For IoMT Implementation

To reap the IoMT advantages, healthcare companies will need to develop new strategies leveraging the growing data amounts, update their business models and cope with the technology implementation challenges. Before you implement IoMT into your processes, you should ask yourself:

• Do you have solutions to manage the vast data amounts generated by IoMT devices? Remember, for the quality statistical analysis, predictions and diagnostics that IoMT solutions give, you need big data visualization and analytics (BDVA) software, which is supported by cloud and edge computing powers. You have to think in advance about the configuration and architecture of such solutions, considering regulatory requirements like HITECH, HIPAA or ETSI.

• Are your cybersecurity and data protection systems ready for new challenges? The growing number of connected medical devices poses additional risks. Therefore, you need to use a set of measures to prevent and repel attacks—separate IoMT networks, cybersecurity frameworks (CSFs), block encryption for remote monitoring of patients, blockchain to avoid personal data disclosure and so on.

• How will you integrate existing management systems with new solutions? Device compatibility must be ensured; they are heterogeneous, and there are differences in the standards supporting applications. Therefore, it is necessary to develop standardized interfaces and solutions for seamless data exchange and provide opportunities for scaling and regular updating of all connected devices. Then, your system can maintain uniformity among them and work efficiently without delay.

• How accurately did you estimate the financial burden? You need to consider not only the cost of developing, implementing and maintaining IoMT systems but also the costs of staff training, regular upgrades and electricity. However, you can use modern sensors with low initial setup and maintenance costs, reduced energy consumption and connection to renewable energy sources. It can help optimize costs in the long run.

Despite the complexities, without which real technical breakthroughs are impossible, IoMT can take you to a whole new level of interaction with patients. The Internet of Medical Things is the foundation that tomorrow's healthcare is built on, and you need it to grow and thrive in your business—today.

The Internet Of Medical Things: Its Role In Healthcare And How To Implement It