Think about the last time you received treatment from a doctor. The use of a blood pressure monitor, a continuous glucose monitor, or perhaps even an MRI scanner was involved.
This shouldn't be shocking: According to a recent Deloitte estimate, there are presently more than 500,000 medical technologies available.
Modern internet-connected medical equipment is designed to increase productivity, cut expenses, and produce better results. Organizations are making use of the promise of IoMT technology as computing power and wireless capabilities increase.
How, though, does this interconnected ecosystem function? What actual challenges does IoMT face? Let’s dig in.
What Is IoMT?
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is a network of interconnected medical equipment, software, and health systems and services.
What distinguishes the IoMT ecosystem is the wave of sensor-based tools such as wearables and standalone devices for remote patient monitoring, coupled with the integration of internet-connected medical devices with patient information. While the widespread adoption of IoT technologies is advantageous to numerous industries, it is ultimately the combination of these technologies with healthcare that sets IoMT apart.
The prevalence of IoMT is growing due to a number of factors, including an increase in the number of connected medical devices that can produce, gather, analyze, or transmit health data or images and network connections with healthcare providers. This rising prevalence is anticipated to support the growth of the IoMT market and record revenue of USD 172.40 billion by 2030.
Can IoMT Help Healthcare Providers Deliver Better Care?
IoMT has a number of advantages for both patients and medical professionals.
Personalized, Precision Diagnoses and Therapeutics
A large number of IoMT devices are made to track a patient's vital signs in depth and detail, in ways that are impossible during a quick office visit. A doctor can identify an illness more precisely and develop a more specialized and efficient treatment plan if they have a month's worth of blood pressure or pulse rate measurements.
Remote Medical Treatment and Advice
IoMT devices' nature allows them to collect data from any location, even a patient's home, and securely transfer it to the doctor without the need for a patient to physically attend the office.
Patients can manage their vitals with the help of IoMT devices including wearables and smart scales, which provide them with information they would otherwise need to see a doctor for. Patients may now monitor their health in real-time, rather than waiting for an annual visit.
IoMT offers more information, giving medical professionals a better understanding of their patient's health status. For instance, data from a series of days' worth of blood pressure and heart rate measurements from an IoMT-enabled blood pressure monitor can produce a more precise diagnosis than information from a single doctor's visit.
The Roadblocks of IoMT
The fact that there are so many participants in the IoMT ecosystem, such as the following, presents some special legal, regulatory, technical, and privacy challenges.
- Medical device providers
- Original equipment manufacturers (OEM)
- Connectivity providers
- System integrators
- Systems/software providers
- End users
The ownership of data generated and distributed by IoMT devices is not always clear. For instance, if a city-owned medical device gathers data from a patient, shares the data with a private healthcare organization, and is stored in a third-party cloud service... Who is the data owner? The city? The person? The developer of the software? the hospital or medical facility?
The data can be used and shared in a variety of ways by several parties. The owner may be able to remove the data in a dispersed network where it may be replicated more than once, however doing so can be challenging.
As medical information is sensitive, there are several limitations on when and how it can be used, as well as specifications for how the technology should be protected. For instance, the FDA provided comprehensive recommendations on the Management of Cybersecurity in Medical Devices.
Additional guidelines and regulations regarding these devices have been issued by the European Union, the United Kingdom, and groups including the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation and the European Commission.
Even said, 66% of participants in the Deloitte research said they thought it would take another five years for the regulatory framework to catch up with what is currently achievable.
The IoMT infrastructure is distributed, thus the hardware and software components need to be able to communicate securely with one another. However, these types of interconnections constantly change in terms of protocols and security needs. When new technologies are introduced, compatibility problems may arise if outdated systems are unable to keep up with the changes.
Privacy and security challenges
IoMT data frequently passes through open networks like the public Internet, where there are more security risks than there are on a private network protected by a firewall. Since the data is shared among numerous systems, there can be many attack paths, which increases the hazard.
OEMs must follow industry standards for security, and administrators must use the newest encryption techniques while accessing and verifying the SSL certificates of distant systems using complex and unique passwords.
Connecting Healthcare like Never Before
With technological advances and higher adoption rates, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) holds a promising future. Improvements in patient outcomes and cost savings in the healthcare sector might be anticipated as more healthcare practitioners and patients adopt connected medical devices and software. IoMT has the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery by making diagnoses more rapidly and accurately due to the combination of AI and ML. With real-time access to personal health data and the ability to play a more active role in their healthcare, patients will be better able to engage with the IoMT, which will be a major aspect in the future of the technology.
Overall, the IoMT future is promising, offering new opportunities for innovation and partnership between healthcare practitioners, patients, and technology businesses.