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28th July 2022

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): Transforming medical devices

About 75% of medical devices around an ICU bed that could be integrated into hospital information systems are not integrated, leading to incomplete records. Around 87% of physicians perceive administrative tasks as the main source of the increasing burden of job-related stress. Up to $35 billion of economic waste could be saved annually in the US health care system by a reduction of adverse events, decreased manual documentation, avoidance of redundant testing, and shortening length of stay.

An insightful combination of cutting-edge hardware and innovative software

Innovation is an earmark of the medtech industry. This has been apparent with the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) and healthcare. As connected technology becomes more entwined in our daily lives, there is an increase in health-connected devices and the growth of the connected medical device market.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing almost every aspect of people’s lives and the healthcare system is already seeing significant adoption of IoT technology. Connected medical devices are helping healthcare providers remotely monitor patients, access health data, and conduct follow-ups. Over the next few years, IoT in healthcare could transform the industry.

What are Connected Medical Devices?

Connected medical devices are devices that utilize their in-built sensors to collect data and transmit them over the internet to other devices that are equipped to receive the data. They are capable of connecting to the internet through radio transmission, WiFi, or Bluetooth.

Connected medical devices have digital capabilities beyond the basic functions of diagnosing, treating, or preventing diseases, allowing them to integrate with and connect to other networks and systems. Medical devices like imaging machines, automated drug delivery devices, and clinician-monitored wearable fitness trackers are examples of connected medical devices.

How Do They Work?

An insightful combination of cutting-edge hardware and innovative software is the key to ensuring the successful functioning of connected medical devices. A typical workflow would follow a patient, giving inputs about their ailments and prompting the device to run a search for a close match. If a match is detected, it will issue a prescription to the patient. If none is found, it might request the user to give a sample of a certain metric and then repeat the matching process. If both of these steps fail, it directs the patient to book a consultation with a medical practitioner who will examine him/her.

Connected medical devices process data in order to actively impact the delivery of care. They are designed to enhance human capabilities in patient care, not to replace them.

Examples of Connected Medical Devices

There are numerous examples of connected medical devices; an increasing number of companies are weaving connectivity and IoT technologies into medical devices. In 2014, there was an estimate that there would be over 50 billion connected devices in use by 2020. Many connected devices are already in use in the medical industry. Examples include:

Mood monitoring:

Mood disorders are far more common than is reported. Seemingly normal people end up committing suicide due to having been in poor mental health for a prolonged period. Mood-aware IoT devices are able to track metrics such as pulse, heart rate, and pupil dilation and alert mental health professionals of any impending issues.

Connected contact lenses:

A smart contact lens equipped with a micro-camera and sensors, collecting data for ‘tear analysis’ that would provide the glucose levels for the wearer, was a bright idea of Google as early as 2014. It could potentially be used to monitor diabetics/pre-diabetics.

Smart Pill:

Abilify Mycite was the first FDA-approved smart pill. It contains aripiprazole, an antipsychotic used in the treatment of conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

How are Connected Devices Being Used in Medical Industry?

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) includes various devices used inside and outside health care facilities to streamline treatment, reduce the risk of error, and provide greater availability of critical data, such as information on patient vitals.

Smart Patient Monitoring Devices

These devices continuously monitor patients, collect data, and transmit the real-time data directly to care providers. With the readily accessible data, the healthcare team can quickly and remotely check a patient’s vitals. These devices can also provide updates and alerts of vital patient information when they exceed the safe levels.

The take-home versions of connected medical devices can monitor patient symptoms and diagnostics while sharing that data with care providers, ensuring better home monitoring and potentially reducing the need for follow-up visits.

These patient monitoring devices range from large machines built for hospital settings to lightweight health-tracking wearables people can go around with.

Smart Device Scanners

Connected medical devices like orthopedic implants and medical instruments have unique device identifier (UDI) codes made by laser marking on their surfaces. These UDI codes must be in plain language and a machine-readable format because they provide a wealth of information about the marked device.

Smart medical devices, drawing relevant information from cloud-based databases and updating records, can read the second version of the UDI. These devices are connected to the internet and can be used to update cloud-based records as they scan automatically.

They are powerful tools for conducting inventory, verifying the plain-language portion of a UDI, and determining an instrument’s specific model or lot number.

Smart Infusion Pumps

In medical practice, medication errors are not so rare. They can lead to death or cause serious injuries. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) can help prevent medication errors by streamlining the dosing process and delivering IV medicine.

Smart infusion pumps are medication delivery devices that use innovative technology, drug information libraries, and barcode readers to reduce risk when administering IV medicine.

The healthcare worker designates an area of use which will automatically configure the pump based on needs. The clinician then chooses the medicine they need to administer from an internet drug library, then selects a concentration and configures the pump’s dose.

Information from the drug library will help prevent errors like dosing mistakes and combinations that may lead to health problems.

Some pumps incorporate scanning of the drug using a barcode on its packaging rather than choosing one from a list. Some may also include information such as the height and weight of the patient, the average drug concentrations, and dosing units. This is to ensure that only the correct drug dosage is administered.

Smart Pills, Capsules and Medications

Smart pills and capsules are used to monitor medication adherence and provide physiological patient data. They are outfitted with special sensors that activate upon turning wet in a patient’s stomach. They then communicate with a wearable medical device, signaling that the pill has been used. The device that receives the signal can automatically generate a log or report showing that the medication was successfully taken.

The Future of Connected Devices and IoT in the Healthcare System

IoT in health care is growing fast. The global IoT in the healthcare market is expected to increase by 21% between 2020 and 2025. The market may be worth up to $187.6 billion by 2028, a significant rise from just $41 billion in 2020. Consequently, new applications of smart medical technology are expected to become widely available.

The penetration of connected medical devices in a variety of areas within the healthcare industry is contributing to the rise in connected medtech and IoMT.

Due to their benefits, and as the market expands and health care facilities look to adopt devices that make daily work easier, connected medical devices may become much more common over the next few years.

About Med-Tech World:

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