Top 5 Internet of Medical Things (IOMT) Applications in 2021

5 August 2021

The Internet of Medical Things (IOMT) is transforming the healthcare industry and the world in general. We look at the top five real-life IOMT applications today.

The Internet of Medical Things (IOMT) has grown exponentially in the past decade. According to the Data-Driven Investor, 40% of IoT devices are currently used in the healthcare industry, with healthcare-related IoT revenues predicted to surpass $135 billion by 2025. 

The sector’s fast growth is mainly attributed to the capability of connected devices to monitor health vitals, route data, and provide valuable alerts. In addition, Medial IoT devices can administer medications and automate critical processes. 

Key advantages of incorporating IOMT into everyday healthcare activities include increased accuracy, improved efficiency, and reduced costs. Goldman Sachs estimates that the internet of medical things will save the healthcare industry $300 billion annually once fully implemented. 

So, how has the Internet of Medical Things impacted healthcare, and what are the standout applications? Let’s find out. 

What’s IOMT?

The Internet of Medical Things (IOMT) is a subset of the Internet of Things (IoT) that focuses on healthcare applications. Also known as healthcare IoT, it’s an interconnected structure of medical devices, software applications, and healthcare systems/services that work together to improve healthcare outcomes. 

Take an example of the heart rate monitor. Heart rate monitors track the patient’s heart rate and relay the data to hospitals in real-time, allowing caregivers to provide the right level of care right away. 

According to Deloitte, the IOMT market is currently valued at around $150 billion, nearly three times the market value in 2017. More impressively, about 60% of healthcare organizations globally use IOMT devices and solutions, with another 27% planning to adopt the technology shortly.  

The IOMT Ecosystem 

Like the internet of things, the medical IoT system comprises multiple architecture layers that harmoniously work together. These include;

  • The perception layer: The perception layer is responsible for collecting all kinds of health devices. Tools used here are mainly intelligent medical devices, such as point-of-care devices, intelligent pills, clinical-scale wearables, and in-hospital monitors. 
  • The connectivity layer: This is also known as the data transmission layer. It moves the data between the perception layer (medical devices) and the cloud in both directions. Essential tools here include network technologies (Wi-Fi, ZigBee, BLE, NFC, etc.) and gateways. 
  • Processing layer: The processing layer includes massive data centers and servers that store and process data. Data organization also happens here. Most IOMT solutions use the three leading cloud platforms for data storage and processing, i.e., the Amazon Web Service, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.
  • Application layer: The application layer provides end-users (hospitals and care providers) with data analytics, reporting, and device control solutions to help them make informed care decisions. The range of tools here is extensive. 

Real-Life Applications 

Although the number of use cases keeps growing by the day, IMOT already has multiple applications. Popular real-life applications are as follows;

          1. Wearable biosensors 

Wearable biosensors are a valuable piece of technology that enables disease detection, disease prevention, and care administration. They are small and lightweight devices worn on the body to monitor signs such as temperature, breathing rate, and heart rate, thus providing caregivers with crucial information necessary for real-time care provision. 

The most popular biosensors today include glucose monitoring sensors, heartrate motors, and mood monitoring devices. We now even have a covid-19 monitoring device that detects early signs of the coronavirus and alerts medics. The Covid-19 monitoring device was first installed at the OLVG Hospital in the Netherlands. 

          2. Automated insulin delivery 

Automated Insulin Delivery (AID) systems, also known as closed-loop insulin delivery systems or artificial pancreas systems, are revolutionary IOMT devices targeting diabetes patients. Diabetes affects about 8.5% of the global adult population, according to the World Health Organization. 

AID devices work in conjunction with continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) to deliver insulin via pumps whenever the patient’s blood sugar levels drop below target. So rather than requiring the patient to take a finger prick test to measure their glucose level, the CGM tracks the sugar levels continuously, even while the patient sleeps. Then the AID springs to action as required. 

         3. Connected inhalers 

Respiratory conditions, such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), are manageable with treatment. However, the need for strict adherence to medical prescriptions often poses a challenge. Monitoring is another common issue. According to the Royal College of Physicians, two-in-three asthma deaths are directly related to untimely care. 

Connected inhalers are smart inhalers linked to an app to help patients more accurately track their medication use. They offer audio and visual alerts to remind patients to take their meds. They also provide users with personalized medication plans and help patients avoid triggers by providing allergen forecasts. 

         4. Smart thermometers 

In one of the most talked-about discoveries in the Covid-19 period, smart thermometer manufacturer Kinsa developed a unique range of thermometers that works in a network. These smart thermometers can form a map showing clusters of high-temperature zones that may indicate a Covid-19 outbreak. 

Though the first large-scale application was detecting coronavirus outbreaks, Kinsa’s smart thermometers have also been used previously in tracking potential flu outbreaks across the country. The thermometers can also share data with doctors in real-time, allowing caregivers to provide the best level of care. 

         5. Virtual hospitals/wards 

Finally, smart technology and connected medical wearables have enabled virtual hospitals to allow care providers to provide outpatient and long-term care remotely. The concept is under trial across the globe, from Australia to the UK and the US. 

For instance, in Sydney, the RPA Virtual Hospital opened in February 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Meanwhile, Northampton General NHS Trust has partnered with Doccla to provide remote monitoring to recovering Covid-19 patients in the UK. Over in Asia, the UAE government has established several virtual clinics to provide a range of outpatient services, including cardiology and pediatrics. 

Summary 

Although we’re still a long way from widespread medical IoT rollout, the signs are very encouraging. The development of smart monitoring devices, including insulin and heartrate monitors, connected medical devices, such as connected inhalers and thermometers, and the advent of virtual hospitals are particularly very exciting. Contact Nix Solutions to learn more about the Internet of Medical Things (IOMTs) and related applications.