The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) represents medical devices and applications that connect to healthcare IT systems through online computer networks. Medical devices equipped with Wi-Fi allow the machine-to-machine communication that is the basis of IoMT. In addition, IoMT devices link to cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services, on which captured data can be stored and analyzed. IoMT is also known as healthcare IoT.
IoMT includes remote patient monitoring of people with chronic or long-term conditions; tracking patient medication orders and the location of patients admitted to hospitals; and patients’ wearable devices, which can send information to caregivers. In addition, infusion pumps that connect to analytics dashboards and hospital beds rigged with sensors that measure patients’ vital signs are medical devices that can be converted to or deployed as IoMT technology.
Telemedicine which has gained much attention during the last few years, remotely monitors patients from home is also based on IoMT and wearable devices. This kind of treatment spares patients from traveling to a hospital or physician’s office whenever they have a medical question or change in their condition.
It can reduce unnecessary hospital visits and the burden on health care systems by connecting patients to their physicians and allowing the transfer of medical data over a secure network.
IOMT consists of two main segments in Healthcare, as discussed below.
On-Body Wearables Segment
The on-body segment can be broadly divided into consumer health and medical and clinical-grade wearables.
Consumer health wearables include consumer-grade devices for personal wellness or fitness, such as activity trackers, bands, wristbands, sports watches, and smart garments. Most of these devices are not regulated by health authorities but may be endorsed by experts for specific health applications based on informal clinical validation and consumer studies. Companies operating in this space include Misfit (Fossil group), Fitbit, Withings, and Samsung Medical.
Clinical-grade wearables include regulated devices and supporting platforms that are generally certified/approved for use by one or more regulatory or health authorities, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Most of these devices are used with expert advice or a physician’s prescription. Examples include a smart belt from Active Protective that detects falls and deploys hip protection for elderly wearers. While Halo Neuroscience’s Halo Sport headset is worn during workouts and physical training to stimulate brain areas responsible for muscle memory, strength, and endurance. And Neurometrix Quell, a wearable neuromodulation device that taps into sensory nerves to provide relief from chronic pain.
The in-home segment includes personal emergency response systems (PERS), remote patient monitoring (RPM), and telehealth virtual visits.
A PERS integrates wearable device/relay units and a live medical call center service to increase self-reliance for homebound or limited-mobility seniors. In addition, the package allows users to communicate and receive emergency medical care quickly.
RPM comprises all home monitoring devices and sensors used for chronic disease management. They continuously monitor physiological parameters to support long-term care in a patient’s home to slow disease progression. They are also used for acute home monitoring, for continuous observation of discharged patients to accelerate recovery time and prevent rehospitalization. In medication management, they provide users with medication reminders and dosing information to improve adherence and outcomes.
Telehealth virtual visits include virtual consultations that help patients manage their conditions and obtain prescriptions or recommended care plans. Examples include video consultations and evaluation of symptoms or lesions through video observation and digital tests.
IoT: The Future of Pharma?
Pharma IoT concept involves digitalizing medical products and related care processes using smart connected medical devices and IT services (web, mobile, apps, etc.) during drug development, clinical trials, and patient care. The outcomes of Pharma IoT in development and clinical trials can employ combinations of advanced technologies and services to create new kinds of disease treatment possibilities.
For patient care, Pharma IoT will enable patients and healthcare professionals to use medicines with advanced sensor hardware and craft personalized care services and processes (Product 2.0). Good examples of the Pharma IoT solutions are the connected sensor wearables for Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis patients, which provide medication management, improving patient outcomes, and quality of life.
Existing medical device products such as inhalers and insulin pens can be added to the sensor and connectivity technologies to collect data for other care analytics and even personalized therapy. All this will substantially improve personal medication and care processes because patient care data provides new sources of innovation and competitiveness.
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