IoMT - Opportunities and Risks in the Digital Healthcare System

5 golden rules for successful IoT projects

In challenging times it becomes particularly clear: The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is booming. Patients obtain information online, they use wearables and apps to record and evaluate their health data. Doctors offer services via the Internet. The potential of IoT technologies has therefore long since reached the healthcare industry, and the digitalization of the healthcare system is in full swing: according to a study by the business consultants Deloitte, the market value of IoMT will increase from the current 41.2 billion US dollars to over 158 billion US dollars globally by 2022. IoMT is helping to overcome important current challenges in the healthcare system: The current shortage of healthcare professionals, the care of chronic diseases, a whole range of preventive health measures and also the simplification of administrative procedures. Using sensor-equipped devices, medical data can now be easily collected and transmitted, enabling not only timely and accurate diagnosis, but also remote medical treatment options. At the same time, the acceptance of this technical innovation is steadily increasing, both on the medical and user side. Patients today can monitor their disease indicators closely via easy-to-use, user-friendly IoMT solutions, independent of medical professionals. For example, chronically ill or at-risk patients are able to manage their daily lives more independently and safely.


Here are some examples of innovative IoT solutions in the healthcare sector:

  • Networked medical devices such as MRT and CT scanners

  • Portable medical devices for remote patient monitoring

  • Video security cameras and electronic, ID-capable security doors

  • Object tracking in medicine, which uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to monitor the location of medical devices and medical supplies.

  • Preventive maintenance systems for medical equipment to reduce the unplanned failure of tools, equipment and systems.


Digital Healthtech solutions: Five key areas

The positive effects of modern digital health technology solutions are particularly noticeable in the following five areas:


1. Reduction of the risk of infection

According to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), 9 million cases of so-called "healthcare associated infections" (HAIs) occur across Europe every year, caused by bacteria and viruses in the course of medical treatment. People can also become infected in any waiting room from other patients, which can be life-threatening, especially for high-risk patients or chronically ill patients. If such patients are no longer examined exclusively in clinics or doctors' practices, but by means of routine checks via remote monitoring, the risk of infection can be significantly reduced. Particularly in view of the current Covid 19 pandemic, this is a worth considering alternative to the classic visit to the doctor.


2. Improving the accuracy of diagnosis

Artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithm-based data analysis functions enable the development of innovative IoMT applications. The enormous amount of collected data supports the assessment and diagnosis of patients. One example: Ki solutions are able to significantly improve the detection of recognized arrhythmias, such as those associated with atrial fibrillation, in a large number of patients. This significantly reduces the number of incorrect findings - which not only supports the quality of diagnosis, but also reduces the time and effort required by medical personnel.


3. Preventive early detection

Patients can monitor their cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic conditions (such as diabetes) with modern medical devices and securely share the data with their treating physicians. A measure that can save lives: Strokes are the second most common global cause of death, with an annual mortality rate of about 5.5 million people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 80% of strokes could be prevented by monitoring the main risk factors - arterial stiffness, atrial fibrillation (AFib) and high blood pressure.


4. Reduced health costs

The monitoring of biosignals and disease indicators, combined with preventive measures, not only reduces medical risks. It can also reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and the resulting costly treatments. A positive side effect is that medical personnel invest correspondingly less time in administrative and data-related work. Time that they can now use for patient care and consultation. In this context, the consulting firm McKinsey estimates in a study that up to 34 billion euros could have been saved in the German healthcare system in 2018 - assuming complete digitization.


5. Improving the shortage of personnel

IoMT solutions can not only reduce costs, but also alleviate the growing shortage of healthcare personnel. Rural areas in particular are now often no longer adequately supplied with medical and nursing staff. Modern IoMT solutions can compensate to some extent for the lack of demand and help to meet the challenges while reducing health risks.


Risk factors in IoMT - Data Security First!

Experts now speak of a data and cloud revolution in the healthcare ecosystem. In the course of digitalization in their industry, medical technology companies are virtually becoming IT companies - a development that is associated with major challenges for them: they often find themselves confronted with major knowledge gaps with regard to scaling clouds, dealing with cyber security, digital health and interoperability. And they are right, because IoT also brings with it an unprecedented amount of data in the healthcare sector, which poses major challenges for network infrastructures.


However, there are effective measures in place to counter the increased security risks: Companies should adapt their traditional network designs to ensure the latest standards in network intelligence, automation and security. Hospitals, clinics and care facilities need an effective network infrastructure that complies with security and privacy regulations while being easy to manage and operate.


This is what the appropriate infrastructure should deliver:

  • Provide a simple and automated process for adding IoT devices: This allows the network infrastructure to dynamically discover devices and assign them in a secure manner.

  • Use the right network resources for an efficient IoT system.

  • Provide a secure network environment against cyber attacks and data loss.


Conclusion: IoMT - the digital revolution in healthcare

The Internet of Medical Things will bring forth a multitude of innovative applications that will revolutionize the healthcare system. All these digital technologies can help address the major challenges facing virtually all global healthcare systems. Doctors and physicians have to treat an increasing number of elderly and chronically ill people, medical innovations require huge financial budgets, medical care in structurally weak rural areas is to remain secure - in the course of the digitalization of the healthcare system there are many new approaches to solutions that seemed unthinkable just a few years ago. IoT solutions for the healthcare system make medical organizations more intelligent and patient-friendly. 


IoMT intelligently combines mobility, automation and data analysis - and fundamentally changes the way hospitals, clinics and care institutions collect data and information. IoMT thus has the potential to completely redefine how people, technology and devices network. Ideally, the results are: better care, lower costs and better outcomes. However, the prerequisites for this are a sufficient technological infrastructure, competent experts in its implementation and sufficient know-how in daily application practice: this triad guarantees secure processing of sensitive patient data.


veröffentlicht am : 2020-08-25 11:00