IoT solutions are making the healthcare environment more convenient for patients and medical staff. This blog is dedicated to understanding more on IoT in healthcare.
What are IoT and IoMT?
Regami defines Internet of Things as a network of physical devices with sensors and actuators, software, and network connectivity that enable devices to gather and transmit data and fulfil users' tasks. IoT is becoming a integral part of all industries. When it comes to healthcare, IoT in becoming more and more of a key component of its digital transformation. This drives the need to distinguish it as a separate group called Internet of Health Things or Internet of Medical Things.
Markets and Markets research states that the global Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare market size is expected to grow from USD 72.5 billion in 2020 to USD 188.2 billion by 2025.
Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) Use cases
IoT-based patient care
Medication Intake Tracking
IoT-based medication tracking allows doctors to monitor the impact of a prescribed medication’s dosage on a patient’s condition. It also enables patients to control their medication intake with the help of in-app reminders. They can also log in changes in their symptoms for doctors to analyse in detail. The patient app can be connected to smart devices, (e.g., a smart pill box) for easier management of multiple medications.
Remote health monitoring
IoT in healthcare also can be used for remotely monitoring health conditions of patients, especially for chronic disease management. Patients can use connected medical devices or body-worn biosensors that allows doctors or nurses to check their vitals (blood pressure, glucose level, heart rate, etc.) via doctor/nurse-facing apps. Health professionals can monitor this data 24/7 and study app-generated reports to get insights into health trends. Patients who show signs of deteriorating health are scheduled for in-person visits.
IoT- and RFID-based medical asset monitoring
Medical inventory and equipment tracking
All medical tools and durable assets (beds, medical equipment) are equipped with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. Fixed RFID readers (e.g., on the walls) collect the info about the location of assets. Medical staff can view it using a mobile or web application with a map.
RFID-enabled drug tracking helps pharmacies and hospitals verify the authenticity of medication packages and timely spot medication shortages.
Smart hospital space
Cloud-connected room sensors (e.g., a light switch, door and window contacts) and ambient sensors (e.g., hydrometers, noise detectors) allow patients to control their environment for a comfortable hospital stay.
Benefits of using IoT technology in healthcare
Medical IoT enables patients to actively participate in the treatment process. More involvement as well as real-time data from the patients helps improve the care outcomes. Also, IoMT also helps increase patient satisfaction in terms of care delivery, communication with staff and physical comfort (smart-rooms and smart-wards).
Reduced care-related costs
The presence of medical IoT devices that cloud-connected enables medical facility to have access to the patients health-data in regular intervals. This enables Non-Critical patients to stay and home and allow the IoT solution take care of the communication with the medical facility. Also, Telehealth technology enables patients to virtually visit nurses and doctors for consultations.
Patient apps connected to biosensors help ensure compliance with a discharge plan, enable prompt detection of health state deviations, and provide an opportunity to timely contact a health professional remotely.
Challenges of IoMT and how to address them
Potential health data security breaches
The connected nature of IoT brings about information security challenges for healthcare providers and patients.
Every medical facility has its unique set of applications to be integrated with an IoMT solution (e.g., EHR, EMR). Some of these applications may be heavily customized or outdated.
Regami recommends implementing a HIPAA compliant Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) solution to ensure that the solution and the PHI is completely secure. Also, Regami recommends the solution to be completely planned such that all integrations are well thought out before start of the project.
Regami shall be able to support with development of the physical devices, integrating them with the network, develop the cloud architecture, web application and mobile apps to facilitate IoMT. Regami has the expertise with HIPAA Compliant solutions.
Regards Hariharan Raghavan