The internet of things, popularly known as IoT, which has applications in a range of industries, has made its presence felt emphatically in the medical industry. This has led to the emergence of a new term, the “internet of medical things” or IoMT, that is synonymous with the internet of things for healthcare.
What is the Medical Internet of Things?
IoMT can be defined as a system in which medical devices are interconnected and communicate using online computer networks. These devices and applications store the gathered data on cloud platforms from where it can be easily accessed by healthcare providers who can use them to carry out real time analysis and take timely medical action. This information is also used for medical research and analyses.
Popularly referred to as healthcare internet of things or medical internet of things, IoMT has revolutionized the field of healthcare by enhancing treatment and improving patient prognoses.
What Are the 5 Most Important Applications of Healthcare Internet of Things or IoMT?
In case of accidents or natural disasters, it is sometimes difficult to contact a patient’s family. In such scenarios, the information about the patient’s emergency contacts that is stored online using IoMT can help take required action automatically. Other relevant personal data about the patient’s blood group, allergies, and medical history prove crucial for the healthcare team who can provide immediate assistance if this information is available. Saving precious minutes during emergencies can literally make the difference between life and death.
Patient information management
Patient information management is another area where the internet of things in healthcare proves extremely useful. The patient’s medical history, family medical history, and personal information (age, sex, allergies, emergency contact details, insurance details, and blood group, etc.) can all be stored online using the medical internet of things. This data can easily be fetched by healthcare providers and be used for on-time treatment.
Doctors can measure and record patients’ vital parameters like blood pressure, heart rate, etc. on cloud platforms. This information can aid treatment and prevent the administration of the wrong drugs or procedures, preventing allergies and related complications.
Smart beds are the newest trend in medical technology. These beds can record a patient’s vital signs, sleep patterns, and positions. All this enables better care by ward nurses and prevents issues like infections and bedsores.
Remote, real-time monitoring and medical assistance
This is one of the most important applications of the internet of things in healthcare. The proliferation of wearable devices with sensors, which can be worn by patients, has enabled this phenomenon. These sensors transmit data about patients’ vital signs to healthcare providers in real time. Any changes in blood pressure, blood glucose level, and heart rate are instantly conveyed to doctors or nurses, who can then provide immediate assistance. This helps in saving countless lives.
Some devices also detect falls and mishaps and can be extremely useful for elderly patients. Any changes in the daily routine are recognized and alerts are sent to family members who can reach out to help the patient and potentially prevent fatalities.
The healthcare internet of things helps people with special needs reside in the comfort of their own homes and still be connected to medical professionals in real time. In case of an emergency, remote medical assistance can also be provided to the patient who might be miles away.
Such timely medical intervention can prevent future complications and decrease the number of visits to the emergency room. Such healthcare facilities are especially useful for people who stay alone, reside in remote areas, and elderly individuals/couples who have greater healthcare needs.
The internet of things has proved very helpful in inventory management across industries. It can be used to automate all aspects of inventory (storage, use, requisitions, orders, and inspections) of medical supplies. This reduces effort, time, paperwork and ensures efficient utilization of resources.
It can help keep close tabs on supplies and ensure availability of medicines and healthcare supplies, especially during emergencies. Along with inventory management, the medical internet of things helps locate equipment within the premises of the hospital. Locating materials, such as IV drips, wheelchairs, and stretchers, becomes easy and increases the efficiency of hospital staff.
Research and analysis
With the internet of things, medical research can achieve newer heights. A large amount of patient information can be collated and analyzed easily and rapidly. If done manually, this process would take years and the data of only few patients would be available.
By using internet of things technologies, detailed data about a patient’s illness, symptoms, treatment plan, treatment duration, surgical procedures, medicines used, total treatment duration, side effects, diet changes, etc. are recorded.
The data sets are precious because their analyses can yield valuable information that has far-reaching implications in the field of medicine. It helps develop better treatments, more effective drugs, and preventive measures. The statistical results generated using this data can help hospitals and other healthcare institutes make quicker treatment decisions with fewer errors. In addition to saving time and effort, such healthcare systems save and improve thousands of lives.
Medical Internet of Things: Few Noteworthy Applications
The technology of the medical internet of things is advancing at a fast pace and is expected to help design cutting-edge devices and applications in the near future. Here are a few examples which herald what the future has in store for IMoT:
- GPS SmartSole: This is a smartphone placed within a shoe insole. This device is used to track dementia patients who tend to forget things and are prone to getting lost; it is also useful for young adults who suffer from autism or developmental disabilities.
- FloPatch: This smart bandage is stuck to a patient’s neck and detects blood flow to the brain after a clinical intervention – an important post-operative aid.
- Medication Dispensing Device by Philips: This is one of the most popular devices that use the medical internet of things. It reminds patients to take their medication on time. This is perfect for elderly people and those who miss pills because they lose track of time or just forget to take their medication.
- Smart pills: These are sensor pills (they need to be swallowed by the patient) that track medication adherence and inform the health care provider if a patient misses a dose. This is especially useful for patients taking chronic medication because non-adherence can lead to treatment failure, even death.
- UroSense: This device is used for catheterized patients to check their urine output and core body temperature. It also incorporates a command center and alerts for efficient monitoring.
With the advances being made in technology, the future looks bright for the field of medicine. With the combination of the medical internet of things and AI, the advent of next-generation devices with smarter data processing capacity can save millions of lives. This is likely to be a game changer in improving patient quality of life and survival rates.