The medieval philosophers were right. Man is the center of the universe. We stand in the middle of infinity between outer and inner space, and there’s no limit to either.Dr. Peter Duval from the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage
When the classic film Fantastic Voyage was released during the summer of 1966, it broke previous records to become the most expensive science fiction film ever made at that time.
For those who haven’t seen it, the movie follows the story of a submarine crew who are shrunk to microscopic size and are then injected into the body of an injured scientist. The crew is tasked with with removing a clot from the scientist’s brain, encountering many obstacles along the way.
Watching the movie now, the special effects leave quite a bit to be desired, but the plot is still wildly entertaining. After seeing it recently, I started thinking about the advancements in medical technologies that have occurred since the time the film was made.
We’re still a long way out from being able to shrink humans and enter into another person’s body, but today’s medical and healthcare industries are going through rapid changes thanks to technologies like the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and Artificial Intelligence.
For example, there are smart pills that contain tiny computer chips, which transmit signals to an online portal indicating that the patient has successfully taken their medication.
Even Machine Learning is being implemented in applications like medical imaging for improving diagnostics for early detection of diseases.
With the world’s population increasing, as well as the average human lifespan, the market for internet-connected devices and applications in the medical industry is also projected to increase.
In fact, Goldman Sachs estimates that the IoMT will save the healthcare industry around $300 billion in annual expenditures.
To learn more about this booming industry, I reached out to a few experts in the IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) field about what applications they’ve seen and some of the benefits that IoMT can offer.
I also researched some examples of IoMT applications being used today to provide some more context of the real life implementations that are being used today.
Applications & Benefits of IoMT
So how is IoMT going to change the medical industry?
Chris Weigand, CEO and Co-Founder of Jibestream, a data-driven indoor mapping and intelligence platform, cites applications that will remove unnecessary friction from the patient experience.
He says “Some of the recent use cases hospitals are implementing using real-time location systems include queue management, asset and status tracking for wheelchairs and vital medical equipment, and proximity and geofence-based messaging to patients and staff.”
He continued,”Other pain points that healthcare organizations are starting to address include common frustrations around parking, checking in for appointments, and navigating queues at scale. The ways that the IoMT is changing how we access healthcare is exciting and overdue, but there is still work to be done to achieve the interoperability required for enterprise organizations to integrate their disparate systems.”
There are many other applications for IoT in the Medical and Healthcare Industries. Below, I’ll go over some that I found interesting and think will have a large impact on the field.
Disaster Preparedness for Hospitals
As someone who grew up in Florida and was living in NYC during Hurricane Sandy, I have experienced firsthand the impact that environmental disasters can have on a city.
During Sandy in 2012, NYU Langone Medical Center lost power which caused them to cancel all surgeries and medical procedures except for emergency procedures.
Then, on October 29, one of their backup generators failed, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of patients, including those from the Intensive Care Unit.
Environmental disasters are out of our control, of course, but being prepared for them is something that hospitals and medical staff spend a lot of time working on.
With things like preventative maintenance using sensor data readings, it’s possible that NYU Langone could have prevented their backup generator from failing, potentially saving lives in the process.
Building redundancies into important systems is something we’ve covered previously and one of the most practical uses of IoMT technology. Check out our post on the topic here.
IoMT Wearables for Health Data
Probably one of the most commonly cited ways that IoMT can have an impact on the health and medical industries is through the usage of wearables for collecting patient health data.
It seems as though there are more and more new medical devices produced every year that can track and monitor patient health. Despite concerns about data privacy and security, these devices have started entering the mainstream and usage of them will most likely continue to grow.
Adnan Raja, VP of Marketing at Atlantic.net, also believes that wearables will have a large impact on the healthcare industry.
He told me, “Devices within this vast network are able to monitor heart activity, blood sugar levels, and parameters within other systems; they can also be utilized to track the quantities of sleep and activity that a person gets each day.”
He continued, “Wearable IoT items make it possible to track the typical day-to-day movements of a patient and send out an alert when anything is inconsistent.”
Remote Patient Monitoring
According to a report from Allied Market Research, the market for patient monitoring applications is expected to reach $72.7 billion by 2021.
Alfred Poor, HealthTech Futurist and Editor of Health Tech Insider, also believes that remote patient monitoring has the potential to have a massive impact in healthcare.
He said, “I was once told by someone from IBM Medical that the cost of readmitting a heart failure patient starts at $30,000 just for them to walk through the door. Remote monitoring to detect the early signs of fluid accumulation means that medications can be adjusted and any further problems avoided. Left undetected, the patient may wait until they are in respiratory distress, which requires an expensive emergency trip to the hospital.”
Adnan Raja also agrees that patient monitoring is one of the greatest ways that the IoMT is being used within healthcare.
He told me, “Elderly people sometimes neglect to take their medication at the prescribed intervals. Devices that are connected within the IoT are able to both send out reminders to these patients and to record the time when a pill is actually taken. Plus, mobile diagnostic devices can read the body and send notifications so that patients do not have to go the doctor’s office as frequently.”
Real-Time Room Monitoring
Dary Merckens, CTO of Gunner Technology, shared an example of a real-time room monitoring device that his company recently worked on.
“In 2017, Hurricane Irma caused catastrophic damage to the state of Florida and several hospice patients died when their facility’s power went out leaving them without air conditioning. Our device delivers room temperature data in real-time to caregivers so they can be sure their loved ones are being taken care of.”
Environmental monitoring is one of the most common IoMT applications in the field today and the use cases for assisted living facilities, hospice centers, and hospitals falls in line as being extremely impactful under many circumstances.
Machine Learning for Diagnostics
The early work being done in using AI in the medical industry is already showing positive signs for the future.
One example of this is the use of image recognition machine learning models for diagnostics.
Recently, Google AI researchers working with Northwestern Medicine created a machine learning model for detecting lung cancer from images in screening tests. The model detected cancer 5% more often on average than a group of six human experts and was 11% more likely to reduce false positives (Venturebeat).
Obviously, there are many use cases for this besides just cancer screenings- the applications of machine learning models with medical imaging are already being used for diabetic retinopathy diagnosis and other diagnostics as well.
Vaccines and Cold Storage
According to NIST, the largest source of vaccine loss is improper refrigeration. In fact, 35% of vaccines are lost due to this problem globally.
The CDC states that vaccine storage errors decreases potency and reduces the effectiveness of the vaccines. Moreover, this problem can cost thousands of dollars in wasted vaccine and revaccination in addition to loss of patient confidence.
Thankfully, IoT applications like freezer monitoring, can offer a solution to help reduce vaccine loss.
Our Kosmos IoT system makes implementing a temperature monitoring solution quick and easy. In fact, with our Industrial Starter Kit, you can get a temperature monitoring system up and running in less than 30 minutes.
Glucose Monitoring for Diabetics
Nate Masterson, CMP and Certified Health Expert for Maple Holistics, cites glucose monitoring for diabetics as a great application of IoT technology in healthcare:
“As the prevalence of diabetes seems to rise each year, constant glucose monitors (CGMs) are extremely useful and important in the maintenance of people’s health and wellbeing. They enable diabetics to continuously keep track of their blood sugar levels by measuring them at specific intervals and gauging whether one’s blood sugar levels are rising or dropping.”
“Smart CGMs can send information to a person’s phone or smartwatch, and the information can be shared with caregivers as well. As the need for CGMs increases, this IoT healthcare feature will become increasingly prominent and will spark even more innovations for diabetes care.”
Indoor Tracking of High Risk Patients
United Nations projections indicate that by 2025, the world’s population is set to be 8 billion, of which approximately 1.2 billion will be elderly.
It makes sense then, that indoor tracking and monitoring applications are some of the earliest and most cited examples of the capabilities of IoMT.
Back in 2015, Temboo built an IoMT application that monitored activity data for elderly people who live alone so that their families and friends can make sure they are ok. The video above illustrates how we built it.
Chris Wiegand from Jibestream also shared his thoughts around indoor tracking of high risk patients. He said, “One of the most impactful IoT healthcare use cases we’ve seen recently harnesses the power of location-aware IoT technology for the benefit of patient safety.”
“By leveraging indoor maps and positioning technology, geofencing, and asset tracking, organizations can use beacons and an indoor intelligence platform to track high risk patients throughout facilities and receive notifications if they enter or exit specified areas within facilities. With the size and complexity of modern medical buildings, the ability to quickly locate patients is of the utmost importance to families and hospital administrators, especially in the case of infants, young children, and seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
Real World Examples of IoMT
Yuan Ze University in Taiwan
One example of IoMT being used today is from Yuan Ze University, who used wearables in combination with Temboo’s software to study the affect of daily activities on learning disabilities. With Temboo they were able to collect and monitor 17 data points for study participants over a 3-year period.
St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana, Texas
St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana, Texas implemented a pilot program to reduce the hospital readmissions of high-risk patients diagnosed with specific chronic illnesses.
They implemented a remote patient monitoring system that included a tablet and Bluetooth devices such as scales, blood pressure monitors, and pulse oximeters to send patient data to hospital staff.
The results were impactful: 90% reduction in overall cost of care, 65% reduction in hospital readmissions, 95% patient adoption, and 95% overall patient satisfaction.
Geisinger Health Plan HMO in Central and Northeast Pennsylvania
Geisinger Health Plan wanted to assess the impact of telemonitoring on heart failure patients. They implemented an application for remote monitoring of weight and added self-reported symptoms to their care management process.
The pilot was a success, with the cost of care reduced by 11% and an ROI of 3.3 to 1. This resulted in $2.48 Million in savings for 541 patients.
Copenhagen Business School
Security was a big concern for them, which is why they chose Temboo to aid in the collection of the sensitive data of the participants.
Joachim Lindholm, one of the researchers, said of Temboo, “We managed to create a solution that enriches our participants with a sense of trust and safety.”
Their study gives hope for developing an alert system for those with epilepsy which offers the potential of improving the safety and well-being of the 65 million people all over the world who suffer from the disease.
Lee Health at Coconut Point in Estero, Florida
Lee Health wanted to prioritize a “frictionless” customer experience at their new facility in Coconut Point.
To do this, they created an app called “Hello Patient” which uses indoor wayfinding technology to route the guest to specific offices and tracking their progress to arrival thus eliminating wait time.
In fact, the app has allowed patients to complete forego the traditional check-in and checkout process – it’s all done through the app.
Looking to the Future of Healthcare with IoMT
As you can see, there are a wide variety of applications and use cases for IoMT in the healthcare and medical industries.
As these technologies become more developed and compliant to various regulations in the fields, I expect we’ll see use cases and applications that go beyond what we once thought was possible.
Biohacking for example, is one field that has not quite taken off yet but has some interesting, if somewhat morally ambiguous, applications in use today.
If you’re interested in learning more about the ways IoMT can help with your healthcare or medical application, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.