Introduction to the Internet of Medical Things

By now users and companies are mostly aware of the concept of the Internet of Things. However, when it comes to healthcare, there’s an entirely new field of opportunities that’s more or less a derivative of IoT – the Internet of Medical Things. 

While it may sound like a far-fetched concept, the idea behind it is really simple. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) consists of sensor-based devices that are linked together with IoT for integration with different mobile technologies. 

When the information provided by those devices is collected and combined with electronic health record (EHR) systems, there’s a brand new dimension opened up with many new possibilities for the entire industry. This type of medical software generally falls within the following categories: 

  • Tracking resources and assets
  • Allowing Internet of Things in hospitals
  • Collecting and integrating clinical information

Now, let’s have a look at each one of these individually and expand with other potential benefits that the implementation of healthcare software (and hardware) can bring. 

Tracking Resources and Assets

Implementing IoMT within the structure of a hospital can automate plenty of processes, including resource and asset tracking. This comes with a lot of added benefits, one of which is the ability to allocate human resources elsewhere, which becomes particularly evident in the current pandemic environment where there’s an obvious shortage of medical professionals on a global scale. 

The scenarios where IoMT brings about include environmental sensing functionalities, movement detection, location awareness, as well as proximity inference. 

Enabling the Internet of Things in Hospitals

Technologies based on IoMT have the capabilities to locate medical staff, patients, as well as visitors. 

Lately, the concept of smart hospitals is growing increasingly and innovative healthcare software companies are quickly making this a reality. 

This would provide environments where the risk of human error is reduced as much as possible while processes are logic-based and automated. 

Collecting and Integrating Clinical Information

This alone contains plenty of different technologies. The IoMT, however, is making the process a lot more effective and streamlined. 

The information that’s generated from various medical observations can be collected and also communicated as it couldn’t have been done before. This saves time, resources, while also encourages future promises. 

It goes without saying that the application of innovative healthcare software takes new dimensions. Furthermore, IoMT solutions emerge from its development, providing plenty of benefits for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. 

Here Are Six Major Advantages of IoMT 

As outlined above, the benefits of technology for medical facilities are undoubtedly numerous. Below are six, though the list is not conclusive: 

  1. Better outcomes of various medical treatments
  2. Better control over the wastage in the sector
  3. Reduced medical costs
  4. Enhanced management of drugs and adherence
  5. Substantial reduction in human errors
  6. Improved overall patient experience

All of these are direct derivatives from the implementation of healthcare software solutions which are definitely not limited to the Internet of Medical Things. 

However, it’s also worth noting that there are certain drawbacks as well, as it is with everything. Moreover, there are also some challenges that have to be considered prior to the implementation of technology of this kind. 

Disadvantages and Drawbacks of the Internet of Medical Things

Right off the bat, it’s worth noting that implementation of any Internet of Things technology usually comes with a certain concern about privacy. When it comes to patient privacy, the things to consider are even more. 

Using internet-connected devices provides additional entry points for bad actors such as hackers. This year alone we’ve seen plenty of ransomware attacks on medical facilities which not only jeopardize the security of the stored data but also require tremendous ransoms in order to decode the data and unfreeze the proper functioning of the facility. Security breaches can easily result in data corruption or manipulation and when it comes to medical facilities, this can be disastrous. 

Some additional challenges include: 

  • The management of IoT-based devices would present a serious challenge for the majority of non-technically savvy medical personnel. 
  • Monitoring the activity can become more difficult. 
  • Plenty of compliance concerns with organizations such as HL7 as well as with some established standards, including the FHIR and HIPAA. 

What Does the Future Hold?

It’s clear that there are some challenges that need to be tackled when it comes to the internet of medical things. However, when these problems are mitigated or completely resolved, this is a field that’s expected to bring true revolution throughout the entire healthcare industry. 

In any case, it remains very interesting to see whether the advent of technology will make it possible to resolve the underlying challenges that are currently faced by many facilities, making way for the widespread adoption of IoT-based solutions in healthcare.