5 Examples of IoT Innovation In Healthcare

March 31, 2021 - 7 minutes read

medical app developerOver the past few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has grown beyond factories and industrial applications to offering broader connectivity of devices and sensors in healthcare. As the number and type of IoT innovations grow, healthcare will benefit from better sensors, more stable connectivity, and faster computing power for real-time analysis of patient data. MedTech applications and devices powered by IoT can help improve the healthcare experience for both patients and providers.

This marriage of two seemingly unrelated fields has been named “The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)”. Here are five examples of IoT and IoMT innovations we can look forward to.

Digestible Sensors

This concept may sound like it’s straight out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s a real technology in today’s healthcare ecosystem. Pharma companies have figured out how to manufacture pills with sensors embedded inside of them. The patient swallows and digests the pill, and your doctor has a first-hand look into your body.

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The sensor is often no bigger than a grain of rice, and it transmits data to a patch worn by the patient. Information like vitals is sent to the patients’ care team’s smartphones, including the caregiver, family, and provider. For elderly patients, these ingestible sensors can help families keep track of their loved one’s medicine consumption and dosage from afar.

Reduced ER Wait Times

It’s well-known that going to the emergency room can result in long wait times, sometimes up to 12 hours. Although most of us won’t go to the ER until the last minute, most of our time spent in the ER is in the waiting room. At New York City-based Mt. Sinai Medical Center, the hospital staff knew they had to work on fixing this major issue.

They used IoT technology in the form of bed-tracking software from AutoBed and existing tools from GE Healthcare to track the status of 1,200 beds in their hospitals. The software used 15 different factors to determine each patient’s needs and estimated time of leaving the ER. With this information, the hospital staff was able to better prioritize patients in the waiting room and optimize down the time spent waiting by 50%. This is a massive improvement that immediately elevates the patient experience.

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Automated Insulin Delivery

Monitoring blood glucose levels and taking action is arduous and repetitive. It requires attentiveness all day every day for life. Without enough focus, a patient can be at risk of death, so it’s extremely important to automate this technology when and where possible.

A new closed-loop insulin delivery system named Open Artificial Pancreas System (OpenAPS) brings us the benefits of custom IoT development. It automates the checking of blood glucose levels in the patient’s body and gives the patient the correct insulin dosage. By connecting an insulin pump and glucose monitor to the system, OpenAPS’s algorithm can create a stream of communication between the sensors and devices.

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The automated delivery of insulin is especially invaluable at night when many patients are too busy sleeping to worry about staying within their required blood glucose range. Unfortunately, night-time hypoglycemia can be fatal, and OpenAPS can be customized for both hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic patients.

Treat and Monitor Cancer

Cancer is a widespread medical problem that affects hundreds of thousands of patients every year. With IoT, we can determine a baseline for cancer symptoms in their early stages and use it to compare daily sensor and device readings. IoT can also help us adjust and create treatment plans based on need and progress.

New wearables technology is being used to detect early signs of breast cancer using a combination of machine-to-machine communication, artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analytics. This technology tracks the breast tissue’s temperature over time and looks for abnormalities. These types of noninvasive and nontoxic treatment and monitoring solutions are possible because of emerging technologies like IoT and AI.

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Remote Patient Monitoring

Beyond the pandemic, remote patient monitoring (RPM) has become a popular way for providers to get in touch with their patients without requiring them to leave their homes for an in-office visit. For patients with chronic illnesses or cancer, this technology can save them from fatigue or immunocompromising situations. RPM is also a great tool for the 60 million Americans who live in rural areas where the nearest hospital can be hours away. Additionally, RPM wearables can be used to monitor patients after an operation.

RPM devices and sensors send accurate medical data to providers, offering the patient faster medical treatment and testing for any abnormalities. In general, RPM saves patients hospital expenses and helps medical facilities keep down their readmission rates. 60% of Americans have at least one chronic disease, and RPM technology can save them a lot of time and money. Studies have shown that RPM can reduce all-cause mortality by a massive 20%.

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A study undertaken by the University of Mississippi Medical Center involved using RPM to monitor Type II diabetes patients living in rural Mississippi. All regular appointments were scheduled through the RPM software and with connected devices. Ultimately, patients were able to save themselves from driving about 10,000 miles for medical appointments, and none had to visit the ER.

The Future of IoMT

Medical care has become indispensable during the pandemic, and IoT is helping care teams and hospital staff provide more efficiency, faster response times, and reduced waiting time. IoMT is saving the lives of patients who have diabetes, chronic illnesses, post-operation woes, and those who live in rural areas. We can’t wait to see how these five technologies will be used across the world within the next few years.

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