One of the fastest-growing markets in healthcare technology is the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). This term refers to medical devices with network connectivity that are able to communicate with each other as well as healthcare information technology systems.
The effective use of IoMT promises to reduce the number of unnecessary hospital visits and provide physicians with more information to use when making clinical decisions. Physicians can use these devices to monitor patients remotely and judge their response to new treatments, as well as gather more information when individuals have a new symptom prior to an office visit. And that’s just the beginning.
The IoMT market consists of a number of different segments, including:
Many of the most exciting applications of IoMT are related to community-based technologies. Even within this segment, several different types of technology exist. For example, there are devices that can track and transmit biometric data, such as temperature. This sort of device has become very valuable in the age of COVID-19.
In addition, companies are developing technologies designed to aid paramedics and emergency department personnel by paying attention to key metrics. In addition, there are point-of-care devices that can be used by providers outside of traditional healthcare delivery settings, such as at community fairs.
This segment also includes logistics technologies that help track pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and more. These technologies include sensors for medications that require certain temperature conditions to ensure they are still effective when they reach the customer.
Many in-home IoMT devices are being developed. These devices range from personal emergency response systems to remote monitors. The former connects patients who are at risk of adverse events to medical call centers to increase self-sufficiency while ensuring safety. These devices allow quick communication in the event of a fall or other unexpected event.
Home monitors are useful in tracking chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension. In addition, these devices can facilitate at-home observation after discharge from the hospital to prevent re-hospitalization by indicating potential problems before they become serious.
Monitors are especially helpful in looking at patient reactions to new medications and some even remind people to take those medicines at the right time and dose.
One of the fastest-growing segments in the IoMT market involves wearables. This segment can be divided into consumer health wearables and medical-grade devices. Consumer wearables are meant to track activity and biometric parameters for fitness and they are not regulated by health authorities. However, experts often endorse them.
Clinical-grade wearable are generally certified by a regulatory body like the FDA. These devices are meant to be used in collaboration with a physician. For example, Neurometrix has developed a wearable neuromodulation device that helps treat chronic pain and Active Protection offers a device that detects falls and deploys hip protection for patients who are elderly.
Many IoMT devices are designed to facilitate typical clinical processes. These devices may be controlled by clinic staff with the data sent directly to the provider, or the provider can use the device on the patient directly.
These devices make it easier to track data by putting information directly into the patient’s electronic health record. Furthermore, they facilitate remote healthcare, which has grown immensely in popularity due to the pandemic.
These devices range from Clinic in a Bay, which is a comprehensive cloud-based examination platform, to a digital stethoscope that automatically records findings. Many devices in this category are meant to make examination a more streamlined process by recording findings automatically and making it possible to do remote exams with the help of another staff member.
IoMT is also being used to improve processes in hospitals. Devices can be used in the hospital for a wide variety of purposes.
For example, some devices help keep track of mobile assets like infusion pumps and wheelchairs throughout the facility. In addition, devices can be used to monitor the health of equipment and indicate when it needs to be charged or potentially replaced.
Inventory management systems keep track of consumable supplies and provide indications of when they might need to be reordered to avoid going out of stock. These devices reduce inventory costs while also improving staff efficiency by automating much of the process.
In addition, environmental devices can monitor temperature, humidity, and more to make automatic adjustments depending on the needs of patients or storage areas. Beyond maintaining the functional flow of the hospital, there are other innovations meant to improve patient experience and outcomes.
Patient flow management programs monitor patient arrival times and stays to help avoid bottlenecks and reduce wait times. Other devices are meant to treat particular conditions, such as ventricular tachycardia, by monitoring the heart and intervening when necessary.
One unique device meant to prevent infection is a hand hygiene system. It uses real-time location and sensors to track the identity of employees using dispensers and ensure hygiene protocol is being followed. These systems help keep everyone in the hospital safe—especially now, during a pandemic, when hand hygiene is so important.