How Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) Is Revolutionizing Healthcare

People across the world have experienced a dislocation of medical and hospital care during the first year of the pandemic. But, at the same time, millions experienced how technology can change health care practices and the patient care experience. Few observers believe health care will return to the pre-pandemic norm because widespread innovative uses of technology were introduced or expanded during the crisis.

Today, there are reportedly more than half a million medical technologies. Many of them are medical devices, instrumentation, and hospital equipment, but other technologies support systems of telemedicine, patient and staff tracking, and sensing and reporting remote data—to cite but a few examples. The latter are internet-connected devices.

Internet of Medical Things – what is it?

The term for these systems of physical things in the medical field, connected by the internet, and therefore operating wirelessly to perform myriad functions, is the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). A specific application of the widespread IoT, these systems are improving efficiencies, lowering health care costs, and yielding better outcomes for patients.

These advantages, many introduced or greatly improved during the pandemic, will not be given up. Instead, as computing power and wireless technologies like smart badges, asset tags, sensors, portals, and gateways improve, organizations across the spectrum of health care will keep leveraging their capabilities.

If the IoMT, as a system of devices and software applications, has rapidly become integrated with health systems and services, it is probably thanks to a new generation of sensor-based tools. Bracelets for patients and fixed devices for monitoring hospital patients, patient rooms, and other parts of medical facilities are largely concerned with new ways of collecting, analyzing, storing and transmitting patient information. It is this that sets the IoMT apart from applications of IoT in other industries.

This new generation of technology facilitated by the internet is driving better workflow management not only in patient care in and out of hospitals, but in the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance industry, and others.

According to AllTheResearch, the growth of the world IoMT market will skyrocket in the next few years. That business was valued in 2018 at about $45 billion and is expected to grow more than 500 percent by 2026.

Artificial intelligence becomes part of the IoMT

One element that may drive growth is the increasing integration of artificial intelligence into IoMT. AI technologies keep improving the analysis of data, including hospital-patient movements, staff work patterns, and management of assets to uncover patterns and insights. With data continuously collected from patients, locations, and staff, AI can use algorithms to help make better business and clinical decisions in the hospital and, above all, to continue to improve the experience of patients.

Impact on hospitals and other inpatient care

Much of the technology for remote patient monitoring is used in hospitals and other inpatient facilities. In such facilities, the IoMT has a host of distinctive, specialized applications. Many improve patient monitoring, increase staff effectiveness and even safety, make better use of patients rooms, and keep track of major mobile equipment around the hospital.

Internet of Medical Things solution
  • Even before the patient reaches the hospital emergency room, however, asset tags and wireless connections can tell EMT drivers which available hospital has open beds and even the availability of certain blood types for transfusion.
  • Patients who arrive in the emergency room and must wait to be seen, or wait for an available bed, can be equipped with a bracelet, then centrally monitored, so that hospital staff can track each patient’s wait time. A typical sequence might track a patient from the time of leaving the operating room to arriving at post-operative care and later a ward room. Bottlenecks or potential bottlenecks can be identified.
  • In the ER and throughout the hospital, tracking has improved work management by identifying wait times for treatment and thus an understanding if the time of health care personnel should be reallocated temporarily or permanently. 
internet of medical things devices
  • Patient rooms (and others) can be monitored so that staff know at all times what rooms are occupied and what rooms have become available.
  • Patient bracelets now keep track of every patient’s location in the hospital, transmitting data to “gateways” that then analyze and transmit the results to other parts of the system. The safety of patients is enhanced in facilities where patients must be limited to certain wards or other areas of the hospital. Because their location is known at all times, staff can be alerted immediately when patients (for example with dementia) wander outside restricted areas.
Smart Badges as IoMT soultution
  • Badges for hospital staff mean that their location can be tracked, including when they enter the facility to begin work. They can be asked to report to a given location for meetings. The badges also provide an element of security because they can be programmed to transmit an alert from the wearer. This ability to report a dangerous situation has special applications in psychiatric hospitals, but also in very large facilities with remote areas. Statistics indicate, unfortunately, that attacks on hospital staff do occur, as do other situations such as spotting an outbreak of fire or discovering locked facilities open. Overall, the sense of safety arising out of unbroken connectedness with security and with other staff should reduce staff duress.
  • Asset tags are remote monitoring devices that can track the location of equipment anywhere in the hospital, so, for example, the nearest available wheelchair or infusion pump can be located and used. Expensive equipment can be used more efficiently if staff can always locate where it is and when it is available.  Tags can be applied more generally to inventory management to streamline ordering, storage, and employment of hospital supplies, products to be consumed, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. One result is additional control over costs and  increased staff efficiency.  Assets tags, too, can prevent an unfortunate amount of theft of high-value equipment from hospitals of all kinds, nursing homes, clinics, and vehicles.

Other applications: the pharmaceutical and insurance industries

A good illustration of the sheer diversity of IoMT is its application in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

Asset tags and related tracking technology and software have the potential to transform the logistics of transporting health care goods: pharmaceuticals, supplies of all kinds, medical devices, and equipment–to take just a few examples. IoMT sensors will be able to safeguard certain shipments where temperature, vibration, and humidity need to be measured and controlled.

Insurance companies now are experimenting with tracking relevant behavior and health status of insured individuals and groups. The results when analyzed are being found to make possible better pricing of diverse types of insurance, but also more rapid settlement of claims. There are gains in collecting, appropriately aggregating and transmitting data in the form of the many, many reports to multiple parties now required for insurance compliance. The implications for cost savings in the handling of records are huge.

The Future of IoMT in health care organizations

Almost all health care organizations globally are now using Internet of Things technologies, at least in some applications. That has increased from about two-thirds in 2019.  But if most hospitals and other health care organizations have begun to seek the benefits of IoMT in some areas, the full paradigm shift to digital transformation is just beginning. 

As a leader in innovative technology and applications of IoT, installing systems employing Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, is advancing wireless tracking, monitoring, data transmission, and data analysis in many leading industries, including health care. beacons and tags and gateways, for example, have constantly proliferating applications in hospitals and other settings.

At our mission for health care is to make smart hospital solutions available to all health systems – big or small.

For information specifically on IoMT see:

Our on-demand webinar covering medical device management 

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Our on-demand webinar covering patient workflows 

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