Advances in the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

IoMT allows devices to communicate securely, wirelessly, over the internet, locally, regionally, nationally and globally

Duncan Griffiths
By Duncan Griffiths
Head of Sales, M2M & IoT Connectivity, Cellhire

Companies in healthcare/medical tend to be fast-paced, and, as part of that, look for the most efficient, cost-effective ways of running their business, including the extensive use of tech, IT and data communications.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has evolved from that mix to develop new ways for the sector to make a qualitative leap in its offerings, and produce a new acronym, IoMT, for Internet of Medical Things. 

IoMT allows devices to communicate securely, wirelessly, over the internet, locally, regionally, nationally and globally, to enable rapid sharing and analysis of healthcare, medical and related data and information.

What were once just concepts for IoMT have become practical examples of ways to help patients and medical staff.

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Today, IoMT has multiple applications in healthcare and medical, from using passive sensors for basic patient monitoring to devices such as gloves for remote monitoring of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Let’s look at some examples.

Wearables – wearable IoT devices assist nurses/teams in collecting data in real time from patients about their sleep patterns, temperature and heart rate etc. Wearables are also well suited to offsite management of patients, where patients can stay at home but be  monitored remotely.

Smart beds  – ideal for monitoring beds for movement and wetting, and having an easy way for patients to call for help or control the bed themselves. Smart beds provide a better patient experience while increasing staff efficiency.

Dose management – increases employee and patient experience by controlling the amount of medicine being distributed. This reduces readmission rates and lowers costs, thanks to improved long-term management.

Nutrition management/diet monitoring management – likewise, IoMT can be used for optimising nutrition management and diet monitoring.

Independent living – through IoMT, people suffering from conditions such as dementia get an opportunity to live independently via bed sensors, GPS/movement trackers and drug and nutrition management.

Disease detection and treatment monitoring – in these instances, IoMT-enabled sensors help medical staff to detect disease and monitor patients’ progress as their treatment is initiated and continued.       

Remote condition communication – enables paramedics in an ambulance to connect a patient, via sensors and data communications, to emergency staff in the target hospital. This provides an improved way to share details about patients, including symptoms and injuries, before they reach the hospital, where the staff will be better prepared. Remote condition communication also takes some pressure off the paramedics in the ambulance.

Monitoring a number of patients simultaneously – improves efficiency/productivity  through time and cost savings.

Monitoring patients in quarantine – reduces risk to nursing staff/teams while making their job easier.

How IoMT functions optimally and most cost effectively depends on the type of data connection, and bundle, used. Where IoMT-enabled sensors need to use low power – for example, to conserve their use of electricity if they are battery-powered – they can use connections that are lower speed than 4G or even 3G. Where large, high speed data bundles are critically important, connections up to and including 5G can be deployed.

IoT is not defined as a single network or single technology. Solution providers and end users require a choice of networks and options to use differing technologies, depending on the use case, location, and data and power requirements. In tandem with deployment and use is the absolute need for security to protect critical data.

 Cellhire’s answer  to the above is to give end user companies access to multiple networks, using technology from 2G through 3G, 4G, 5G and LPWAN, all provided via private/public static IP with resilient data centres – and managed through a SIM management single pane of glass.

Which data tariff should be used in IoMT applications? That depends. Flexible tariffs can match each device to the best rate plan – very useful for some applications. Paying for actual usage, rather than “always on” in a flexi plan, can be lower cost and a preferred way for users of IoMT.  It’s well suited to uses where an always on connection isn’t necessary, and is an alternative to paying for data bundles that aren’t fully utilised.

Online management, via a portal, of IoMT usage, can assign device connections to cost centres; and the advent of eSIMs means that data SIM cards no longer have to be physically swapped for another card. All the SIM profile updating is carried out online, and managed via the portal. Development and ideas in IoTM carry on apace – as do the ways to best deliver solutions wirelessly.