The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is an amalgamation of health applications & tools that correlates to health care IT systems using various networking technologies. It also helps in reducing the number of visits done by the patients’ relatives which can cause unnecessary chaos and reduce the burden on health care systems by connecting patients to their physicians. Some Examples of IoMT can be patients’ wearable mHealth accessories, remote case monitoring with chronic ailments, tracking medication orders and more. With the use of IoMT, the patients admitted to hospitals can send information to caregivers and speed up the healing process. Additionally, dashboards and hospital beds rigged with medical devices can measure vital signs from of the patients and help in combating the low doctor-to-patient ratio.
The practice of using IoMT tools to monitor patients remotely is known as telemedicine. This treatment spares patients from travelling to a hospital or physician’s office whenever they have a medical question or change in their mental/physical condition. The IoMT market comprises smart devices such as wearables, vital monitoring devices, tracking devices and more.
The on-body segment can be categorized into medical-grade wearables and consumer health wearables. Consumer health wearables comprise wristbands, bands, smart garments and sports watches. These devices are endorsed by the experts for specific health applications based on consumer studies. Medical-grade wearables include devices that are certified for use by one or more regulatory or health authorities. Most of these devices are used based on experts’ advice or a physician’s prescription. Some examples include a smart belt that detects falls and protects the hip of elderly wearers, a halo sport headset that is worn during workouts or physical training to help stimulate brain areas responsible for muscle memory.
The in-home segment covers personal emergency acknowledgement systems, remote patient monitoring and telehealth pragmatic visits. The personal emergency response systems include a live medical call center service for homebound or limited mobility seniors. It enables users to react quickly and get emergency medical care. Remote patient monitoring benefits the patients with chronic diseases that involve continuous monitoring to support long term care in patients home with slow disease progression. It also includes constant observation of discharged patients to prevent re-hospitalization and equips users with medication reminders and dosing information.
The in-clinic segment includes devices used for carrying out various administrative functions in the clinic. The patient may be located remotely but the devices are used by qualified staff maintaining the safety parameters. For example, personnel management measures staff efficiency and productivity. Patient flow management includes monitoring a patient’s arrival time from an operating room to post-care to the wardroom. Environment and energy monitoring includes electricity use and ensuring optimal conditions in the patient’s area and storage rooms.
Now that we know the uses and benefits of using IOMT devices, let’s move on to learn about their advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of IoMT
- Patients get new treatment facilities using better healthcare devices and medicines at an affordable cost. This helps the patient by lowering the overall expense for their treatment. Patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer or lung diseases often pay lots of money for their medical care. This cost may include their re-hospitalization, transport, general support fees. This technology has the potential to reduce costs and save time for these individuals. Remote patient monitoring services bring care to the patient and they can check in with doctors at any time.
- These health care devices can save patients from carrying all information whenever they visit a new doctor’s office. Those that have multiple physicians can easily share their health records electronically with the use of IoMT. Patients gain better insight into their health information by getting immediate access to doctor’s notes after a visit. It brings more transparency to the healthcare
- It can be beneficial to someone missing a doctor’s appointment due to problems like growing children or parents getting older or maybe something else.
- A family member could monitor the activities of their loved ones as to whether they are taking medication properly or medicine needs a refill. It also can send alerts to notify the health condition of the patient.
- Hospitals can track patients and treatments by accessing data via apps installed on their phones connected to remote patient monitoring devices.
Disadvantages of IoMT
- Ingesting connected devices sounds interesting. But, what if it’s not secured? There could be a possibility that shady companies may broadcast health information for various benefits which nobody would want. Therefore security can be a concern while ingesting connected health care devices.
- There are also a lot of questions raised when it comes to privacy. Who owns it? Is it the manufacturer, doctor, healthcare system, insurance company or the patient? Can data be erased or deleted by itself or will it require a medical procedure? Can it stay in the patient forever? Will it cause any adverse effects in the future? If yes, who’d be responsible for it?
- Unintended use of these devices can lead to potential abuse of power and health data which is a big concern.
The use IoMT benefits the patients from convenience, higher engagement and also lead to fewer medical visits. It is also very cost-effective and helps the patient save a large amount of money, time and effort. Doctors get more accurate data and can make better diagnoses and more efficient time management. Therefore we can say that the Internet of Medical Things is the future of healthcare.