The IoT?revolution in health care
The Internet of Things, or IoT, in health-related devices goes far beyond Fitbits and blood pressure apps on your smartphone. IoT applications in the medical field are vast, and the market is still expanding.
The IoMT Defined
The IoT as it relates to the medical field is also called the Internet of Medical Things, or IoMT. The IoMT refers to systems of internet-connected medical monitoring devices, such as sensors, that receive and transfer medical data over wireless networks, along with the storing of that data in databases and medical records. If a medical device has access to the internet to transmit or receive data, it is considered an IoT or IoMT device.
The IoT has also proven to be useful in hospital settings from a location-detection standpoint. Portable equipment is tagged with devices that can track their location on hospital grounds — from wheelchairs to nebulizers and other medical devices. This eliminates searching for important essential equipment, especially after shift changes or during emergencies.
Many aspects of a patient's health can be monitored from a distance with wearable technology. The data collected from the devices can be beneficial to patients, their treatment teams and insurance companies. The IoMT is a boon to those who live far from medical care sites, or have situations where mobility is limited and getting to a doctor is physically challenging. In certain instances, patients who previously had to stay in the hospital for monitoring can now be monitored from the comfort of their homes, creating significant savings and freeing up hospital beds. IoT-powered wearable technology — and the associated sensors, data, analytics and mobile accessibility — can be an advantage in battling chronic diseases.
Remote monitoring using the IoMT, combined with telehealth, has also proven helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic, minimizing doctor visits and the potential transmission of COVID-19.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of IoT applications in the medical field. Keep reading for a few examples.
IoMT and the heart
The Internet of Medical Things has advanced the state of pacemaker technology. Candidates for pacemakers typically require frequent and intensive monitoring. Smart pacemakers allow the transmission of information to the pacemaker vendor as well as hospital staff and doctors, minimizing visits while maximizing data sharing and analysis for patient care.
Another heart device that has been improved upon with the IoT is the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Individuals suffering from difficult-to-control atrial fibrillation have a possible solution to help manage their condition with the ICD, potentially adding years to their lives and life to their years.
IoMT and blood coagulation monitoring
People with blood coagulation issues must monitor and test their blood on a regular basis to ensure they stay within a normal range. If they have extended periods of coagulation, they are at increased risk of stroke or bleeding.
Real-time blood coagulation testing lets patients check their clotting ability from home or work and transmit this information to their health care providers, so medication can be adjusted or they can be advised on next steps. The devices can also remind patients to test themselves, and issue warnings when results are outside of the normal range.
IoMT and the lungs
Individuals suffering from lung disease may be helped by smart respirators. A smart respirator gathers data about an individual's breathing, analyzes it, then forwards it to the doctor via the internet. This allows doctors to monitor a patient's condition regularly, adjust treatment, medications and strategies depending on a patient's needs.
IoMT and glucose monitoring
Support for diabetics and glucose monitoring can be streamlined through the IoMT as well. Suitable for some patients, a sensor is placed in subcutaneous tissue. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) has been around since the 1990s, allowing the patient and onsite caregiver to monitor glucose levels. However, the IoT has taken it to the next level. The sensor communicates with a smartphone, and results can be sent to the cloud so they can be viewed by the patient's medical team.
IoMT and sleep apnea
A leading device used in the treatment of sleep apnea is the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (C-PAP) machine. The C-PAP device increases air pressure in the throat while a person sleeps, so that the airway doesn't close or collapse during an inhalation. The IoT can be used to collect and analyze nightly data, improving the quality, quantity and safety of the C-PAP user's sleep.
Infinite possibilities for the IoMT
The future of IoMT in health care is promising. This COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated clearly that the implementation of technologies like the IoT, big data and AI can increase efficiency and improve safety. IoT is revolutionizing medical care and patient records, along with data transmission and sharing. It is also reducing the need for maintenance of premises, the cost of hospital stays and medical visits, personnel and more.
Although significant strides have been made in this field, the potential of the IoT in the health field is far reaching. Perle can help businesses expand and develop infrastructures for these technological advancements. Read our customer success stories to learn more.