The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is the sophisticated network of Internet-connected medical equipment, software tools, and hardware infrastructure utilized to bridge the healthcare sector and information technology. Moreover, IoMT is also known as IoT of healthcare it provides secure communication for wireless and remote devices such as wearables over the Internet to ensure rapid and flexible analysis of medical data of the wearer. Contrarily, IoT (Internet of Things) is an all-inclusive term that includes the network of all Internet-connected devices, such as internet-connected factory equipment, biometric cybersecurity scanners, and autonomous farming equipment. IoMT precisely aims at healthcare and medical applications.
Why IoT in Medical Devices?
The Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem has a very sophisticated architecture, in which multiple factors interact with each other to provide multiple solutions for the end-user. Internet of Things is an interdependent network, which offers real-time data acquisition, device connectivity, data transfers, and analytics to guide the applications utilized by end-users. IoT provides the connected environment, comprising the cyber-physical systems, which incorporates human intervention with computer-based systems and accelerates data-driven decision processes. Currently, IoT includes a wide range of technologies such as smart grids, smart homes, intelligent logistics, and smart towns, supported through sensors, actuators, and communication protocol networks. Internet of Things provides several real-time solutions by combining data analytics and sensors embedded on machines.
The Revolution in Diagnosing and Detection of Diseases.
The wound healing process and wearable technologies:
Recent studies have shown the advantages of wearable technologies such as smart dressings to monitor risks linked with delays in wound healing and possible harmful events such as infection. These dressings help in observing the bacterial growth in the wound dressing, sub-bandage pressure, wound-site temperature, and moisture level inside the wound dressing. It also aids in detecting wound pH, and even physiological stress as a potential signal of delay in wound healing.
Wearable to monitor biomarkers for chronic health conditions:
Several wearable technologies, smartwatch devices or mobile health, have been created to enable noninvasive monitoring of health conditions and are suitable for the IoMT platform. For instance, UT-Dallas researchers, have developed a wearable device that checks for certain biomarkers in sweat that could signal flare-ups of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The sensor in the device detects interleukin-1β and C-reactive protein (CRP) and quantifies the presence of these biomarkers associated with inflammatory bowel disease. This study is the first of its kind to demonstrate that CRP is present in human sweat and the first to show that the two biomarkers can be detected in sweat.
Smart technology to identify DFU at an early stage:
Several wearables and smart home objects have been commercialized to determine early signs of Diabetic Foot Ulcers (DFU) and assist the management in planning to prevent ulcers in high-risk patients. For example, a random study in October 2018 in the UK showed that with the usage of Pressure-sensing 'smart' insoles the risk associated with diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) reduced by 71%. Another study by Podimetrics showed that their product smart bathmat can relieve complications by early detections of foot ulcers at home.
Innovations revolutionizing the medical sector:
Aidmed is a Poland headquartered company involved in the manufacturing of chest-worn portable devices to measure the vital signs of the patient. The device, Aidmed One, has sensors that collect several biosignals such as bioimpedance-to check pressure in the chest, accelerometer-to check movement of the patient, thermometer-to check temperature, and electrocardiogram (ECG). With the usage of this device, the physician or healthcare provider receives pre-described reports and alerts to make clinical decisions. Aidmed One optimizes the diagnostic and therapeutic process for medical practitioners and is under trials for applications in pulmonology, cardiology, and infectiology.
MedAngel, a Netherland-based organization has developed an app coupled with a small sensor, enables the users to monitor the temperature of medications easily by using their smartphones. Medication such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and insulins for diabetic patients require cold storage to maintain their effectiveness and prevent them from spoilage. MedAngel's smart sensors monitor the conditions and temperature of the surrounding environment and alert the user before it reaches a critical point.
Medicsen, headquartered in Spain, has developed a smart patch for non-invasive drug delivery. The patch comes in a size of 4x2x1cm. With the help of this patch healthcare providers can administer drugs like heparin and insulin in the bloodstream of the patient. This automatic drug delivery system offers several benefits for medical-reliant people. Non-invasive drug delivery systems can be administered by the patient without any need for needles and healthcare providers.
EloCare is a startup, based out of Singapore that manufactures healthcare wearables for chronic and aging care as well as menopause care. Elo, the smart wearable devices can be used by all women going through the menopause phase. This device monitors health parameters and generates a profile of the wearer which can be analyzed by a health care provider and medications if required can be administered.
Sweati established in Britain, has developed the first non-invasive sweat monitoring patch that can continuously monitor lactate, glucose, and hydration levels of the user. The patch is waterproof and is designed to fit the user's skin like a band-aid and transmits information about glucose, lactate, and hydration readings to the Sweati mobile app. This non-invasive patch eliminates the need of drawing blood or urine to check glucose in diabetic patients. This patch can be worn for a week.
Impact of IoMT on different segments:
In-home IoMT enables individuals to transfer generated data from their homes to other locations such as primary care providers or a hospital. For instance, remote patient monitoring (RPM) is the usage of medical equipment to transmit data such as oxygen saturation or blood pressure from recently discharged patients to their hospital for review by their doctors, this can decrease hospital readmissions by catching problems before they become life-threatening. Telehealth is the usage of communication technologies for remote healthcare services and further offers flexibility by enabling recently discharged patients to resolve minor issues by remote communication with their healthcare provider.
On-body IoMT is the medical equipment worn by consumers, that is associated with remote tracking or monitoring systems. Opposite to in-home IoMT, on-body IoMT can be also used outside of the home. Consumer on-body IoMT equipment is wearable devices generally utilized for sharing medical information with healthcare providers and tracking various health metrics. Additionally, to track a standard metric, such as heart rate, these devices can signal an early warning sign for more serious health issues. For instance, the Apple Watch can warn the wearer about irregular heart rhythms.
Community IoMT is mainly utilized for broader towns or geographic areas. For instance, mobility systems are equipment incorporated to track patients while in transit in a vehicle. Furthermore, emergency response intelligence systems are utilized to track patient metrics outside the hospital setting by paramedics and first responders. In addition, community IoMT also includes technologies that provide remote services. For instance, point of care medical devices can be used by doctors in non-traditional medical settings such as a field hospital, and to provide medicines to individuals in areas with limited or no access to traditional infrastructure kiosks can be utilized.
To understand how personnel and patients are moving throughout the premises, hospitals must manage the quality and supply of their medical assets over time. IoMT sensors and other tracking systems are utilized by healthcare professionals to track all of these interactions so that administrators can get a comprehensive understanding of what is going on.
Challenges for IoMT
The main issue of IoMT devices is their interconnectivity which leaves them prone to cyber breaches like other networked computing systems. The main concern of connectivity of these medical devices is their effect on clinical care and patient safety. According to Identity Theft Resource Center, the U.S. medical and healthcare sector experienced roughly 28% of the total data breaches in 2017, and even with regulations, 94% of healthcare organizations have been the victim of cyber-attacks. In addition, it has become essential for hospitals, hospitals, patients, and other healthcare facilities to understand potential IoMT threats to reduce future attacks.
Technological advancements have revolutionized the healthcare sector. The usage of IoMT is expected to rise in upcoming years attributed to the increase in the adoption rate of IoMT devices and thus, reducing the burden on healthcare costs. IoMT signals the user way before certain health parameters changes and reaches a critical level. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced individuals to manage certain healthcare disorders that are not critical at home. COVID-19 has proved a boon for the expansion of IoMT. Devices that sense changes in heartbeats, glucose levels, and signals users about the medication's time have seen an unprecedented rise in recent years. The market capitalization of the internet of medical things is projected to reach US$ 105.9 Billion by 2026, thus the future of IoMT is bright.