Internet of Medical Things: Key Enablers

Internet of Medical Things: Key Enablers

by Leo Petersen-Khmelnitski

This is the first publication in the series on Internet on Medical Things. In the later articles we will look into classification of IoMT by functions and by regulations, analyse its advantages and challenges, present main areas of IoMT adoption in healthcare. In the text below we look at the definition of IoMT, the key market figures, and the key enablers.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) has no clearly defined borders, hence definitions vary in the level of detailing. The shortest definition of IoMT as ‘a connected infrastructure of health systems and services’ by Deloitte, contains the key word, infrastructure. In this article, we look at IoMT as infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, and health systems and services. IoMT comprises of a network of interconnected medical devices and other appliances that can have machine to machine communication over a network to form a connection of smart devices with Internet connectivity. Typologically, IoMT is a submarket of the Internet of Things (IoT), from which several subsets of the technology have evolved.

Key market figures

The IoMT market has experienced explosive growth in recent years, both in terms of attracted investment, and in valuations. Globally, the IoMT market was valued at $44.5 billion in 2012, but $136.8 billion in 2018, and is expected to grow to $254.2 billion in 2026, according to a report by Allied Market Research. The smart wearable device segment of IoMT made up for the largest share of the global market in 2018, at roughly 27 percent. Today, there are 3.7 million medical devices in use that are connected to and monitor various parts of the body to inform healthcare decisions. Deloitte predicts the market for these connected wearable medical devices will grow from $14.9 billion in 2017 to $52.2 billion in 2022.

Key enablers

What has enabled this enormous growth? Deloitte suggests the following key enablers driving IoMT success:

  • Collaboration between health care providers and medtech – integrating connected medical devices into established care pathways is challenging and requires significant cooperation across the IoMT ecosystem. These collaborations allow all stakeholders to improve their understanding of patient needs and deliver more proactive cost-effective care.
  • Connected medical devices benefit patients, providers and payers – adding connectivity to a device allows data to be generated on a patient’s condition as well as the effectiveness of the health care providers operations. Being able to quantify, contextualise and communicate data generated on a patient’s condition and the effectiveness of the health care providers operations allows the medtech industry to provide solutions that deliver value to both the patient and provider.
  • Joining the dots between connected medical devices and health care IT systems – a number of large medtech companies have developed connected ecosystems that act as a common platform to share, aggregate, and view data to drive both clinical and operational value. Linking disparate sets of data that sit within health care organisations is central to achieving connectivity at scale.
  • Applying advanced analytics to provide critical insights and empower better decision-making – mining, managing and analysing a vast array of data is a key part of deriving value from the IoMT. The insights generated can play a key role in aiding health systems to reduce costs and improve quality, identify populations at risk, connect with consumers and better understand performance.
  • Medtech services that demonstrate improvements in patient outcomes and reduce health care costs – medtech companies are utilising the increasing sophistication of connected medical devices, improved interoperability across health care organisations and advances in analytics to develop service oriented solutions that provide the tenants of value based care. These services are improving patient outcomes and reducing the costs of health care, transforming medtech companies from a manufacturer to a health care provider.

Other factors that have contributed to the rise of IoMt include the accessibility of wearable devices and the decreasing costs of sensor technology. Most consumer mobile devices are equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, they can communicate with IT systems.

In addition, the rates of chronic diseases are on the rise and the demand for better treatment options and lower healthcare costs makes it more appealing to dabble with new innovations that could provide better healthcare outcomes and efficiencies. High-speed internet expansion and access, as well as favorable government regulatory policies, have also contributed to the growth of IoMT adoption.

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