The Future of the Internet of Medical Things
Before many of us knew much about the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), which is in essence connected medical devices, experts were already predicting how significant the innovation was going to be.
As early as 2015, Goldman Sachs estimated that connected healthcare technology had the potential to save Healthcare costs in the United States $300 billion. These savings, they said, would take the form of more accurate data analysis, better diagnoses and more accurate care.
The study also predicted an increase in telehealth, which could improve efficiency and access to care, especially in rural areas. They also saw opportunities in remote patient monitoring and behavior modification.
So far, those predictions have been accurate. However, IoMT adoption has been even higher than anticipated in some sectors — especially telehealth.
Gartner currently estimates that over 75% of healthcare organizations have already implemented at least one IoMT initiative. Fortune Business Insights also predicts that North America’s IoMT market size will grow from $4 billion in 2015 to $142.45 billion by 2026.
A separate report by All the Research (ATR) found that the North American market accounted for nearly 43% share of the global IoMT market in 2018 and predicts it will continue to dominate the market throughout the forecast period.
ATR also reports that the Asia Pacific market will hold the highest CAGR in the global market during the forecast period. This is largely due to growing awareness, changes in lifestyle and improvement of diagnostic facilities.
What’s on the Horizon for IoMT?
While the Internet of Medical Things shows immense promise, there’s still a lot we don’t know.
“It’s an emerging technology,” explains Assad Tabet, Senior Client Partner at DMI. “Connected medical devices are becoming far more sophisticated and mature in terms of data accuracy, integrity, and collection. They’re also becoming faster, cheaper, and easier to manufacture.”
“However,” Mr. Tabet continues, “we’ve only just scratched the surface of what connected medical devices can do to empower patients to manage their chronic conditions. We have limited data around how connected devices, interoperability and IoMT could improve patient outcomes in the long term.”
“Those insights will emerge as we gain a deeper understanding of how people use these devices, what they like and don’t like about them, and the impact it’s having on them to self-manage their conditions at home.”
Other recent trends point to the specific types of connected medical devices that are garnering public attention. A 2021 Gartner press release notes that worldwide end-user spending on wearable devices — such as smartwatches, wristbands, and smart clothing — has increased 18.1% from 2020 to 2021. As a result, manufacturers are focused on improving sensor and data accuracy.
As a result, Gartner says, “the performance gap between medical- and nonmedical-grade wearables is closing, driving growth in multiple wearable devices categories.”
The Challenges Ahead
As exciting as IoMT is, the integrated technology also raises concerns for patients, care providers and medtech companies alike.
The proliferation of available patient data gives medical professionals the ability to tailor their services around individuals. However, with increased data collection comes increased privacy and security risks. Regulations and guidelines like GDPR will be necessary to protect this information and earn consumer trust.
Similarly, connected medical devices have raised concerns over achieving interoperability.
“Sharing health data across ecosystems requires open standards as well as collaboration between medtech companies, care providers and even patients,” Mr. Tabet explains. “Other industries have achieved this by adopting open standards, but healthcare remains far behind the curve.”
The ‘human’ factor is also a challenge. In 2015, Deloitte reported that culture and regulatory concerns were the biggest barriers to IoMT and mHealth adoption in the United Kingdom. This barrier has remained, not just in the UK but in other markets.
To fully embrace IoMT, organisations must be open to implementation. Like with any IT investment, if there’s too much resistance to change or management disagrees on its goals, businesses may struggle to effectively prioritise or measure progress.
Since connected medical devices are an emerging technology, utilisation is not always taught in nursing or medical schools. Care providers will need to close digital skills gaps through training, workshops and other resources. Manufacturers will also need to keep potential skill gaps in mind when creating new devices.
Funding is another issue for organisations of all sizes.
“For medtech and pharmaceutical companies, specifically, I recommend looking outward — not just inward,” Mr. Tabet says. “Tap into innovation hubs, see what others in the market are doing and don’t be afraid to reach out and collaborate with other organisations.”
Collaborate for Effective IoMT Implementation
At DMI, we understand the growing complexity of the Internet of Medical Things and connected medical devices.
Whether you need help taking your device through the FDA approval process for Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) classification or integrating smart devices with mobile applications, our subject matter experts can help you overcome these barriers and successfully digitize your IoMT products and services. We have significant experiences with a variety of communication protocols including BluetoothⓇ, WiFi and Zigbee and have the resources and expertise needed to help organisations achieve interoperability.
Learn how DMI can help you improve patient outcomes and generate additional revenue streams. Contact us today or click here to learn about our IoMT expertise.