The Covid pandemic (COVID-19) has highlighted specific gaps in the healthcare infrastructure and emergency response systems around the world. First of all, it became obvious that the global health system was not ready for offering full-scale services remotely. Secondly, it happened so that being closed at home amid lockdowns patients even with chronic diseases couldn’t get access to their health state monitoring and medical care.
However, today the world owns powerful entities such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and its equally important complement - the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). And these technologies give us hope that the system of healthcare will be developed further and its development will be boosted by innovative software solutions.
Based on this data, about 60% of healthcare establishments have already implemented IoT (IoMT) and achieved significant cost savings, increased profitability, and customer experience. More importantly, IoMT in healthcare serves the financial interests of stakeholders in the healthcare industry, including investors, manufacturers, and doctors. With systems of connected medical devices, the internet of things can really revolutionize healthcare, for example, by supporting the transition from disparate to coordinated care and from reactive to proactive approaches. Also, according to various estimates, there were 4.5 billion IoMT devices in 2015, accounting for 30.3% of all IoT devices globally; in 2020, this number grew to 20-30 billion IoMT devices. The demand for IoT software and IoT device development services is growing and we can expect to see significantly higher figures already in the near future.
What is IoMT: key factors and definitions
The Internet of Medical Things or the Internet of Health Things (IoMT and IoHT for short) is a dedicated network of medical devices to ensure better access to data for patients and healthcare providers.
The IoMT's primary function is to monitor the condition of patients and notify the doctor in the event of an emergency.
Based on a Deloitte report, the market value of IoMT can reach $158.1 billion by 2022. It's three times more than in 2017.
Other researchers forecasted that in 2026 the market volume will hit $254.2 billion.
In addition, connected devices provide a considerable number of new opportunities for the healthcare industry. The Internet of Things in medicine helps us use better things such as wearable devices, remote patient monitoring, and more, to improve the workflow and stay on top of all the data we need.
In addition, internet of things medical applications help improve the accuracy of diagnoses by monitoring changes in patients' health. Using its apps, users can quickly contact their doctors at any time. In this way, medical workflows become faster as workers can serve a large number of people.
IoMT and hospitals
You can see internet of things medical devices in hospitals, ranging from anti-theft sensors to smart beds that help monitor vital functions. Such devices use unique systems that determine the location in real-time (RTLS). RTLS is an internal GPS receiver for hospitals. Still, instead of using satellite data, it uses sensor technologies, various tags, and Wi-Fi / Bluetooth to provide remote monitoring and data analysis.
The role of medical internet of things solutions can’t be underestimated for increasing the accuracy of diagnostics and interpretation of symptoms. Different smart devices for medicine can track patient’s vital parameters 24/7 and help doctors to better understand the health state of a person and factors that may have an impact on it.
Smart home technologies used for healthcare purposes
Often, IoT devices are used for things like security or home lighting. While smart medical homes are focused on providing remote medical surveillance, preventive care, and easier access to health care for the elderly and people with disabilities.
For example, there are also such internet of medical things devices powered with sensors that can detect falls (it’s crucial for seniors and people with serious chronic diseases) and send notifications to relevant organizations and individuals. Among the examples of such devices, we can name bracelets, belts, and shoes, but when we are talking about smart home solutions, it’s worth mentioning smart carpets with sensor pads. These sensors can detect movements and poses, and notify authorized users if some unusual behavior is noticed.
IoMT and our body
Wearable devices have long been an essential part of our bodies. But today you can see more exciting ones. For example, many experts are trying to develop contact lenses that measure blood sugar by analyzing the tears of patients and electronic pills that can send information from the gut to your phone. Tear data will be collected by the lens and then sent to a smartphone or other devices.
There is also a group of internet of medical things examples aimed at facilitating various everyday tasks for people with hearing impairments. What are examples of internet of medical things devices that are developed for this aim? Among them, there are special devices that can decrease background noise, direct sound into the ear canals and even transform oral speeches into text and show them on a screen of smartphone. IoMT wearable devices can also be of great help for people with vision problems.
IoMT amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Today our world seems to have gotten used to the conditions created by the pandemic. Though many countries still register quite sad numbers when it comes to patients who are infected, many restrictions have been already left in the past. Nevertheless, the pandemic has pushed many startups and medical organizations to the introduction of new IoMT solutions that help efficiently deal with many issues created by the spread of coronavirus.
The first example of using the capacities with IoT sensors in combination with AI tools is tracing the virus origin and monitoring whether people comply with quarantine measures.
IoMT devices can also be of great help in ensuring social distancing. Sensors can monitor the density of visitors at different locations like supermarkets, cafes, and offices.
Moreover, the active spread of the pandemic was also one of the factors that contributed to the development of IoMT solutions intended for remote diagnosis making, symptom tracking, and ensuring safety at hospitals.
IoMT use cases
Clinical infrastructure management and equipment management
Today, medical establishments can attach unique trackers to medical equipment, and clinics can receive notifications about the location of this equipment to quickly transport it to the emergency room. Also, they can also receive data on when supplies run out to replenish them.
Chronic disease monitoring
As we know, coping with chronic disease takes a lot of time and resources. The IoMT is helping to dramatically reduce these costs by simplifying chronic disease management with real-time information access and monitoring.
With RPM IoMT technology, healthcare providers no longer need to conduct personal examinations to track chronic diseases. They have access to and monitor patients' chronic illnesses 24/7.
Remote patient monitoring
Continuous monitoring of vital health data is the best example of an IoT healthcare ecosystem.
The IoT helps to more effectively track almost any sensor inserted into the human body for medical purposes. For instance, heart rate monitors check your heart rate to prevent cardiac arrest. In addition, similar devices send special notifications to medical workers to warn of a person's severe condition and provide timely medical assistance.
Monitoring of psychological parameters is used to monitor patients with psychological conditions (depression, paranoia) who are not hospitalized to prevent sudden injuries. It helps track changes in mood and warns doctors of any problems such as accidents, and even death.
What types of devices are used in the internet of things in medicine?
Right now it is already quite complicated to enumerate all the use cases of the Internet of things in medicine as the range of devices as well as related developments is continuously expanding. Below you can find a list of the core types of devices with examples.
- Remote patient monitoring. These devices are the most widely spread ones. These are special wearables with sensors for collecting data, such as temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
- Glucose monitoring. Today there are special glucose monitoring systems that work wirelessly with smartphones. They help to eliminate the necessity to record results manually.
- Heart-rate monitoring. With smart wearables enriched with sensors, patients’ hearts can be monitored continuously and ultra-accurately. As a result, it is possible to timely detect fluctuations in heart rates.
- Hand hygiene monitoring. It is always very important to wash hands properly (not only amid the COVID-19), especially at healthcare facilities. However, leaflets and banners on the walls do not work as they should. That’s why some hospitals introduce IoT devices that can remind visitors and employees to sanitize their hands when they enter a building or a room. These devices can also offer recommendations on the right way to sanitize hands.
- Depression and mood monitoring. Some decades ago people ignored the importance of mood monitoring. However, now it’s a rather significant sphere of medical studies. IoT devices can track such data as blood pressure, heart rate, and even the movement of a patient’s eyes and provide this information to doctors for analyzing the mental state of patients.
- Parkinson's disease monitoring. Smart devices can track the symptoms of the disease and estimate fluctuations of their severity during the day.
- Connected inhalers. If a person suffers from asthma, attacks can start at any moment. Special IoMT inhalers can monitor the attack frequency as well as environmental data at the time when they happen. As a result, it becomes possible to detect what has caused these attacks.
- Ingestible sensors. These sensors are developed to collect data related to the digestive system and provide such info as stomach PH level, for example. But what are some IoMT devices of this type? They usually look like pills that should be swallowed and then they either pass through a patient’s body on their own or just dissolve.
- Robotic surgery. Small Internet-connected robots can be inserted inside a patient’s body to perform challenging procedures that can be rather difficult for human hands. Doctors manage these robots via computers and can make smaller incisions for surgeries and ensure quicker healing.
Our team has rich expertise in IoMT development and we will be happy to work with you!
Cogniteq Team and IoMT technology
Our team had an excellent opportunity to apply all their knowledge and deep experience in the development of IoT solutions. We provide full-cycle web and mobile app device development services. Our partnership with a company engaged in developing and manufacturing assistive products that maintain and improve the quality of life of children diagnosed with autism is a prime example of our skills demonstration.
The client came up with the idea of building an application called Smooth Talker AAC that will allow speech therapists, teachers, and parents to develop language and communication skills in autistic children. The core idea was to create a platform for users to record and playback a series of voice messages.
What is a Smooth Talker?
It has a device with built-in wireless technology that can be used with Simply Works and it-Click-On Plus toy controllers. It's a unique communicator that provides wired and wireless connectivity for toys and apps. Also, it can add messages to your already existing recordings without having to delete them.
How does it work?
The screen shows one or more buttons which can be round or square. The user can set them to change color from one message to the next, and each can be replaced with a picture for each note (directly from your iPad camera or from the gallery).
Based on the client's requirements, our Cogniteq mobile development team tackled this challenge and created an IOS app (it can be used on the iPad) that allows one or two users to record and play a series of voice messages in various ways.
As a result, the app has demonstrated its prospects and potential among software for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Also, it has assisted our client in bringing Smooth Talker hardware to the digital market.
Moreover, the IoMT may see a surge shortly due to its essential role in addressing some of the deficiencies in global health and disaster prevention towards the end of this crisis.
Our company has significant expertise in building custom healthcare solutions for medical devices and will be happy to help you get high-quality support from the early cooperation stage. Feel free to contact us right now to turn your health idea into reality.