The Essential Guide: Exploring the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
Life Sciences | 8 min READ
    
Internet of Medical Things Definition
Recently, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer brought to life a concept called 'Parkinson's house.' Fitted with a plethora of sensors that detect the slightest variations in patient movements, Pfizer hopes to test Parkinson's disease drug effectiveness in real-time. Such technologies fall under the gamut of the Internet of medical things (IoMT), a suite of medical devices and applications connected to the internet to allow for real-time, rapid, and dynamic analysis.
Shirish Sahay
Shirish Sahay

VP & Sales Head

Manufacturing & Life Sciences, Europe

Birlasoft

 
IoMT Trends and Challenges
IoMT is being looked at to solve the data-analytics crisis in the healthcare industry. At the same time, it's also plagued with concerns that challenge its long-term growth. All in all, IoMT is currently being looked at as a tool to unlock the hidden potential of patient data.
IoMT Trends
IoMT is here to stay. Research from Deloitte UK's center for health solutions shows that the market for IoMT is expected to grow to nearly $160 Billion by 2022 and that the percentage of IoMT devices in use, as well as the R&D allocation budget, is only going to be increasing in the next five years.
However, one of the most promising applications of IoMT seems to be in medical research. The average clinical trial already costs a whopping $30-$40 million. It faces problems at every stage, which could be solved using IoMT medical devices such as activity trackers, smart pills, etc.
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IoMT Challenges
As with every emergent technology in the digital space, IoMT is rife with concerns related to its viability, feasibility, applications, etc. The greatest challenge to IoMT adoption is cyber security. Given that IoMT smart devices hold crucial patient data, manufacturers need to adopt the most stringent security protocols to alleviate the concerns of patients and doctors alike.
Other barriers to adoption follow from cybersecurity, such as regulatory changes and winning and retaining patient trust in the digital age, given the high instances of cybercrimes in recent times. The industry also grappled with a talent shortage that might create potential supply-side issues.
Internet of Medical Things Market
The IoMT market is closely linked with the growth of the healthcare industry and the Internet of things (IoT) market. An aging population in most developed countries means that the demand for healthcare, specifically geriatric healthcare, is only going to increase in the future. As for the IoT market, growth between 2013-2014 alone was 160% and is expected to maintain a steady 30% YoY growth well into 2025.
The conclusion is clear. The rising prospects of senior care, coupled with the falling costs of IoT components, means that the healthcare industry is likely to invest heavily in point-of-care devices in a bid to increase their reach.
IoMT Market Size
The market size for IoMT is staggering. Spanning the entire world, Deloitte's prediction of it being a $160 billion market by 2022 is on track. However, given the infrastructural requirements for making IoMT feasible, there are regional variations in market potential. For North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, the predictions are as follows:
  1. North America: $13 billion - $45 billion
  2. Europe: $12 billion - $44 billion
  3. Asia-Pacific: $11 billion - $51 billion
For the rest of the world, which compromises markets that aren't as digitally mature, the prospects are slightly duller:
  1. South America: $2 billion - $9 billion
  2. The Middle East and Africa: $2 billion - $9 billion
Internet of Medical Things Examples
With IoMT, there is a digital equivalent to almost every function in health care. From relaying heart rate and blood pressure readings wirelessly to baseline activity tracking, the possibilities are endless. Some of the most common implementations of IoMT are:
Remote patient monitoring
Worldwide travel restrictions were the norm for much of 2020 and 2021, and remote patient monitoring took off in a way that no one expected. By equipping patients with healthcare IoT based monitoring systems, the need to visit healthcare facilities was eliminated, and doctors could reliably serve patients in remote locations.
Improving vaccine conditions
In less-developed countries, particularly in rural areas, the administration of disease-and-life-saving injections can be a challenge when refrigerators are prone to malfunction. Companies like Nexleaf are working on solutions to remotely track the temperatures of vaccine refrigerators via a sensor for the perusal of public health workers.
Productizing health insurance
In some markets, health insurance is being built into a platform sold as a bundled solution to corporate groups seeking to simplify health insurance for their employees. This trend is already playing out in India and is likely to be replicated across less mature markets.
The Essential Guide to Exploring Internet of Medical Things
IoMT Applications
The scope for IoMT applications is huge. It spans the entirety of healthcare operations: medical care, medical data, clinical research, patient diagnostics are areas that have direct and immediate possibilities for application.
IoMT Services
Smart Inhalers
For asthmatics, the inhaler has long been the only solution to prevent breathing difficulties, wheezing et al. Smart inhalers take the concept of a basic inhaler and endows it with sensors that confer a range of useful features for patients to navigate their world better. For instance, the inhaler could connect to a smartphone app and notify the patient whenever they find themselves in a place with a high pollen count. Smart inhalers can also record usage data, which doctors can then use to monitor usage patterns and make changes when necessary.
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Movement Detectors
The humble pedometer, which calculates step counts, can have a different function if enhanced by medical things (IoMT). Motion detectors have been around for some time, but they can detect movement patterns among patients when coupled with accelerometers and gyro sensors. This is a boon for occasions that require round-the-clock monitoring of bodily movement patterns.
Connected Medical Devices
Wearables
The previous decade witnessed the commodification of fitness and activity trackers as lifestyle products. With IoMT becoming increasingly accessible, the market is going to see greater variety in wearables. Some of the greatest innovations will be around patient monitoring devices, a much-needed tool in the arsenal to serve patients in remote locations. Other devices include smart belts for geriatric patients, chest straps with embedded ECG and heart rate sensors.
Voice Devices
Smart speakers have been another trend that the IoMT device could capitalize on. By architecting programs that work with smart speakers, patients could have their very own 'in-house doctors' that could perform basic diagnostic and evaluation functions. These voice-based devices could act as extensions for medical professionals, thereby serving a broader set of patients.
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Telehealth
Healthcare Chatbots
Chatbots may have been conceived as a sales/customer support tool for software companies in the 90s. However, their applications go much beyond that. Chatbots have been proven to be preferred over the conventional web form when it comes to getting answers, a benefit that the healthcare industry does well to leverage. Scheduling appointments, logging patient symptoms, and even prescription fillings can be automated away to a chatbot.
Virtual Visits
Virtual appointments are the next best thing to a traditional in-person consulting session for patients who live in or are stuck in far-flung areas. Given the nature of a consultation session, IoMT could be used to provide specialized software with embedded features that collect basic patient information (such as temperature, breathing cadence, weight, etc.) and relay it to the doctor in real-time to provide a seamless consultation experience.
Patient Monitoring
Heart Monitoring
We've all heard stories of people getting alerted to a possible heart condition thanks to the built-in ECG features offered by some smartwatches. In addition, heart monitoring in patients is rapidly gaining traction as the incidence of myocardial diseases worldwide has been on an upward tick. Given this worrying trend, it's essential to democratize technology that alerts people to potential cardiac issues before it balloons into a full-fledged heart attack.
Smartwatches with in-built ECG monitors continue to be a niche phenomenon used only by a handful of technological progressives. The IoMT industry could potentially disrupt this market by coming up with a portable, lightweight heart-rate monitor that is affordable, accessible, and interoperable. Such devices are likely to become an indispensable tool in the arsenal of future medical practitioners.
Non-imaging Diagnostics
Mapping Systems
Traditionally, electrophysiology (EP) mapping and imaging systems were done in specialized hospitals with sophisticated equipment to boot. It was impossible to observe the interior of the body without resorting to invasive imaging techniques. With IoMT, this needs no longer be a constraint. There have been instances where doctors have borrowed techniques from neuroimaging that utilizes medical imaging software for non-diagnostic imaging.
Cloud-connected ECG Solutions
Given the information overload that has inevitably struck radiology units worldwide, there has been a growing movement in the medical community to move away from the on-premise picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) to cloud-based PACS that offers greater versatility to medical professionals.
IoMT Cybersecurity
The sheer number of people who have voiced concerns relating to cybersecurity in the field of healthcare has spawned a fledgling healthcare-focused cybersecurity market that is expected to grow above $27 billion by the end of 2025. To ensure a basic level of security, device manufacturers will have to ensure both endpoint security and communication security. For the former, developing appropriate anti-malware mechanisms to ensure device integrity and strict password policies during device setup should do the trick. Mandatory HIPAA compliance is a bonus.
Why the Internet of Medical Things Is the Future of Healthcare
The advent of the internet meant that companies could now work on solutions that could scale globally without resorting to expensive expansion methods. The proliferation of the IoT industry only made this all the more attractive for the healthcare industry.
They now could skip the arduous and expensive process of establishing a strong local presence in each market they serve. IoMT represents the future of healthcare as it is the only reliable tool we have to combat crumbling medical infrastructure and the low doctor to population ratio.
 
 
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