Improving Patient Care and Organizational Health with Internet of Medical Things
June 07, 2021
Never before has the intersection of technology and the medical industry become more prominent in our daily lives.
Smart medical devices and apps are becoming a lifeline for patients and health organizations. A growing adoption that has been accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the urgency to innovate and deliver care. We call this medical and tech intersection the “Internet of Medical Things.”
In 2015, Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, author of the Internet of Healthy Things, predicted how technology will change behavior to improve health with a technological and social shift felt by every sector and human being. His book discussed the significant opportunity for health providers, pharma and biotech companies, technology vendors, and newcomers to develop innovative use cases.
His predictions are now becoming a reality.
Remote patient monitoring and home healthcare are becoming primary ways for patients to get non-urgent care and communicate with their health providers. In addition, consumers are tracking fitness, nutrition, heart monitoring, blood pressure, and glucose levels on their smartwatches and phones.
Many healthcare organizations are increasingly adopting new technologies to detect and treat diseases.
For example, The Henry Ford Health System in Michigan is using a Vercise Genus DBS or deep brain stimulation system to treat Parkinson’s Disease. This stimulates a targeted region of the brain through implanted leads that are placed in the brain. By using Bluetooth connectivity and technology, similar to a cochlear implant that people use for hearing, this system delivers more precise stimulation to optimize therapy to targeted regions of the brain.
Connecting the dots of data allows healthcare organizations to predict what a patient might need next. Patients—especially those with multiple comorbidities—want tools such as apps to guide them through their care journey. In a 2020 Accenture study, 85% of health executives acknowledge that technology has become an inextricable part of the human experience.
While improving patient care is the first priority, the Internet of Medical Things is also driving operational efficiency and revenue for the healthcare industry.
In the same Accenture study, 90% of health executives believe that in a post-digital world, organizations need to elevate relationships with customers as partners. This can help translate into better care management for the patient and improved financial health to organizations.
GE Healthcare‘s digital Internet of Things (IoT) platform known as Edison empowers technicians and clinicians to drive better patient outcomes and also increases service revenue by using its IoT platform to monitor its medical equipment. Its use of AI helps clinicians more easily collect, analyze and act upon critical data closer to its source.
The Internet of Medical Things is also reducing costs. Johns Hopkins Medicine Healthcare Solutions demonstrated 30% cost savings, driven by reduced hospital overhead and more streamlined care with remote monitoring.
What technologies are enabling the Internet of Medical Things?
Our research also found that 69% of healthcare organizations are piloting or adopting AI. Healthcare organizations have integrated AI and other tech tools into existing workflows, focusing on automation and execution. AI systems are powering chatbots that help health providers screen and triage patients and they are enabling the rapid reconfiguration of supply chains impacted by COVID-19. Digital assistants perform electronic medical record documentation so that doctors may spend more time on patient care. Clearly, AI can become an agent of change, transforming not just how organizations do work— but also what they actually do.
5G is also fueling the Internet of Medical Things. Its fast speeds are creating new use cases that were not possible before. In our previous Embedded Computing Design article, we discussed the benefits of 5G for IoT and high-tech. Now these same advantages are applicable to healthcare. 5G allows for quick data-sharing, reliable telemedicine, and possibly in the future—remote surgery. 5G’s high definition and complex multi-modal data streams can enable remote consults, which require the transfer of massive amounts of data such as for MRI images or CAT scans. In addition, high-speed, high-bandwidth connectivity is needed for effective and accurate coordination of care among patient, provider, and specialist. In the future, the millisecond latency and high reliability of 5G may enable remote surgical consults, with the specialist weighing in or even performing surgery robotically from an off-site location.
There are also a number of apps and systems to track everything from medical tests to ordering and delivering prescriptions. For example, consumers can order prescriptions online through GoodRx or local pharmacies. Organizations are using automation systems for the prescription fulfillment process. Some companies are creating an omni channel experience for prescription management and delivery. There are also tracking systems such as Navvsystems, that ensure the right meds arrive at the right location and at the right time. This can improve accountability by having written records, while reducing call volumes and optimizing staffing.
Like many behaviors and practices accelerated by the pandemic, the Internet of Medical Things is here to stay. Technologies such as remote sensors, 5G and AI will continue to enable new apps and products that will improve self-care and drive increased efficiencies and revenue for healthcare providers.