We live in an increasingly interconnected world, in which the links between people and devices are spreading widely. This set of connections has led towards a new way to handle information. What happens when the information is related to the medical field? And which are the characteristics of the Internet of Medical Things?
Before proceeding on this topic, let’s understand what Internet of Things or IoT means. The acronym IoT refers to that set of technologies that allow different devices such as tablets, refrigerators, etc. to communicate using the Internet.
What is the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
The application of IoT technology in the health field leads to what has been referred to as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), or Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT).
The potential of the IoMT is easy to guess, just think of how useful it can be to have a set of integrated medical data related with both the health of the individual and, in a broader sense, with health organizations.
That of smart healthcare is a topic that has been gaining momentum in recent times. The digitization of the healthcare sector offers different scenarios of opportunity and is mainly based on big data and on the development of sensors.
For example, the provision of electronic prescription allows some of the paperwork to be dematerialized, making the data linked to them more accessible.
The collection of data related to the medical information of patients is also the basis of another trend, which sees artificial intelligence as the protagonist. The vast amount of data available allows the AI to develop predictive models that are able to diagnose diseases automatically.
Telemedicine is also part of the vast process of digitization of medicine, which takes advantage of the possibilities of using technology to carry out remote visits and to tele-monitor the patient parameters. The potential of these technologies is high, because they can help make patient visits more efficient and safer, easing the workload of the national health service.
Technology for health
The digitalization of healthcare and the IoMt go hand in hand with the market of easily accessible devices that allow to monitor the health of the individuals and to assist them digitally.
In recent times, in fact, the relatively low cost of wearables has made them more accessible and allowed the individual to rely on these technologies, becoming part of the Internet of Medical Things.
Wearable devices facilitate the request for medical assistance and allow the individual to have access to a set of easily interpretable data and to analyze parameters related to one’s health status, such as heart rate, sleep quality and body temperature.
As evidenced by a study led by Accenture, the use of wearable devices had reached a stalemate in 2018 and then returned to rise again with the arrival of Coronavirus. Even if what will happen in the future cannot be predicted, it is undeniable that the approach to one’s own health has changed during the pandemic.
Wearables are not the only protagonists of the commercialization of network-connected devices that are changing the health aspects in the lives of individuals. With the spread of home automation devices and the introduction of voice control in every smartphone, some things that were previously unthinkable have now become possible. Those with reduced mobility can now take advantage of managing certain aspects of their home, from lights to appliances, simply using their own voice. Integrated systems of notifications and alarms can also help individuals with a cochlear implant. In general, it can be stated that home automation systems help to improve different aspects of everyday life.
Other medical technological innovations related to sensors and to the Internet of Medical Things include those equipments used by those suffering from a specific condition that need to constantly keep an eye on parameters such as: insulin level, blood pressure, blood oxygen in the blood and much more. The sensors are easy to use and allow you to always have these parameters under control.
What are the benefits of the Internet of Medical Things?
The IoMT allows to have a set of integrated health data. This results in some advantages that depend on the simplicity with which these data can be obtained and consulted in respect of the privacy of the individual. The IoMT allows you to:
- expand the possibilities of the research
- make the health service more efficient by having a set of data that are easily available (favouring telemedicine)
- constantly monitor one’s health, reducing the costs needed to do it
- integrate a digital assistance system that is activated when the parameters reach a certain level, ensuring a greater level of security
Data is a fundamental concept in the field of digital transformation. What happens when these data are health data?
How to take care of data to avoid risks
The management of individuals’ health data is a complex topic that needs to be approached with seriousness and competence and that sees at stake different actors: health facilities, doctors, tech companies and governments. Precisely because they are valuable, sensitive and personal data, we must do everything possible to ensure privacy and prevent possible cyber-attacks.
Future scenarios with the IoMT
Devices that can automatically transmit patient data to hospitals and avoid unnecessary travel. Smart rooms that allow to monitor any need of elderly or people with reduced mobility. Simple apps that are installed on smartphones and allow to measure and send parameters to the doctor. These look like futuristic scenarios, in fact current technology would already save public health money and optimize the work of doctors. The IoMT is just around the corner and investment in research and development is the first step to not miss this great opportunity.