If you’ve ever tracked your heart rate while working out, you’ve participated in the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). And if you or a loved one has diabetes or a heart condition, the ability to remotely track glucose levels or pulse irregularities may have already vastly improved your life. The IoMT is the latest revolution in healthcare, redefining how patients and caregivers interact from different locations. IoMT empowers patients to take a proactive role in their care and treatment without one-on-one meetings with their health providers.
What is the IoMT?
IoMT refers to an interconnected network of devices and applications that capture and analyze health-related data. Healthcare providers use this data to monitor and track a patient’s care remotely, improving efficiency, accessibility, and quality of care.
IoMT shares the same fundamental principles as the Internet of Things (IoT), which enables a wide range of connected devices to collect and exchange data in various settings. However, IoMT focuses specifically on medical and healthcare-related devices and applications.
History of the IoT
The term “Internet of Things” was first coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, MIT’s director of Auto-ID Labs and one of the pioneers of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. Ashton described IoT as a connected system where sensors collect and transmit data via the internet for various uses.
IoT and edge networking often get used interchangeably. Edge networking involves bringing data processing and storage closer to where the data gets generated, improving speed and reliability on applications and devices. Sensors and devices relay information to a central location where automated or human resources use the data to monitor and control remote resources.
IoT devices include industrial sensors that monitor electrical systems, smart locks and video doorbells for your home, connected wearables, smart appliances, self-driving cars, and countless other consumer and industrial products. Within the long list of IoT devices are those that collect health information—these comprise the IoMT.
What are IoMT-connected medical devices?
IoMT devices include everything from personal wearables like the Apple Watch to specialized medical-grade devices that monitor the performance of pacemakers and other implanted medical devices. Some of the most popular consumer devices that collect health-related data include:
- Fitness and activity trackers
- Pulse oximeters
- Blood pressure cuffs
- EKG devices
- Cycle tracking devices
- Sleep trackers
The FDA approves and clears medical-grade IoMT devices to provide more advanced capabilities than consumer devices available online or in retail stores. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices give healthcare providers a continuous stream of data to optimize treatment for chronic and acute illnesses like diabetes, heart conditions, high-risk pregnancies, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked the rapid growth of telemedicine. This technology lets health providers use remote IoMT devices to collect vital patient information without requiring in-person consultations. Telemedicine makes efficient, quality healthcare accessible to people in remote locations and medically underserved areas who have a fast, reliable internet connection like Quantum Fiber delivers.
Growth of IoMT devices and telemedicine
The widespread growth of fitness trackers demonstrates the impact connected devices have on our lives. Today, there are over 100 million active Apple Watch users. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), more than 25 billion connected devices will be operating by 2025. Researchers and device manufacturers are investing heavily in IoMT as the pace of adoption accelerates and new applications emerge.
Before the pandemic, telemedicine usage was limited. In 2019, roughly 0.3% of all healthcare interactions occurred online. During the first three months of the pandemic, usage surged more than 750%, as telemedicine accounted for nearly 24% of all interactions. The NCBI describes pre-Covid telemedicine as difficult to access and of limited use due to regulations, system incompatibility, technology, and few participating providers. Telemedicine is now an integral part of the healthcare landscape, with care patients considering it “as good or better than a standard in-person visit.”
Benefits of IoMT
Healthcare wearables like Apple Watches or Fitbits are proven to increase an individual’s engagement with their health and activity level. These devices provide usable information that motivates patients to improve their activity and pay closer attention to their health. With so many devices now available, medical researchers incorporate them into clinical studies and cancer, cardiac, and diabetes treatments.
IoMT and telemedicine aim to give everyone access to healthcare regardless of where they live or work. For those with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart failure, frequent visits to a doctor or clinic add significant time, expense, and stress to their treatment routine. Many people don’t have easy access to healthcare services near their homes. Besides making healthcare more accessible, IoMT devices provide a range of other benefits, including:
- Improved patient care with more accurate diagnoses, optimized treatments, early interventions, and better patient engagement
- Lower costs due to fewer in-person visits, more automation, and reduced complications
- Better healthcare experience with shorter appointment wait times, less travel, reduced errors, and consolidated data that can be easily shared among providers and their patients
Some health insurance plans cover the cost of IoMT devices. In many cases, the expenses you incur for telemedicine-related devices may be tax deductible or exempt from sales tax. Check with your insurance provider to learn more.
Minimum requirements for IoMT
Anyone can take advantage of the Internet of Medical Things. Consumer wearable IoMT devices are readily available, affordable, and packed with essential features. Studies indicate activity and heart rate measures to be accurate and reliable. Healthcare providers typically prescribe advanced medical-grade remote patient monitoring devices. If you have a prescription, you can usually get specific devices at your local pharmacy, such as continuous glucose monitors.
All IoMT devices require an internet connection through WiFi, cellular, or Bluetooth on a smartphone or computer. The reliability and speed of your internet connection will significantly impact the performance of your connected medical devices.
The right internet connection for IoMT devices
IoMT devices usually require little bandwidth. However, a reliable connection delivered over a seamless WiFi network is essential. To get the most out of your fixed or wearable medical monitoring devices, you need an uninterrupted signal without dead zones and enough bandwidth to support all the other smart devices in your home simultaneously.
If your broadband connection speed is 25 Mbps, every 4K video stream, gaming session, or Zoom meeting consumes valuable bandwidth. You may experience lag, buffering, or other slowdowns when your devices are vying for bandwidth. That’s why ultra-fast internet is essential when you toss IoMT devices into the mix.
Fiber Internet from Quantum Fiber offers 99.9% reliability based on network uptime availability and ultra-fast speeds up to 940 Mbps. That’s enough bandwidth for streaming high-definition videos, gaming, and videoconferencing — without impacting your IoMT devices. With fiber internet, you’ll also have plenty of bandwidth for telemedicine video calls and viewing health information online through platforms like MyChart and other electronic medical record systems.
360 WiFi™ from Quantum Fiber gives you secure, whole-house internet coverage, including a router and WiFi pods. The 360 WiFi mesh network blankets your entire home in reliable coverage. Download our easy-to-use smartphone app that guides you through configuring your network. The app also lets you control who uses your network and identifies devices that require priority access to your WiFi signal. These security measures ensure that your IoMT devices and any other connected devices have the most robust internet connection.
IoMT security and privacy
Internet delivered via fiber optic cables is fast and secure. We recommend using our 360 WiFi app and setting strong passwords to prevent unwanted users from accessing your network. Enable 2-factor authentication on any devices and apps that connect to or access your IoMT devices. Companies providing IoMT devices and apps must fully comply with the privacy requirements under HIPAA laws, with data security measures in place to protect any information stored on their servers. By taking extra security precautions, it’s unlikely that your data will be compromised.
IoMT for healthcare providers
For healthcare providers, telemedicine and the IoMT provide opportunities for better patient care and more efficient operations. This technology can help you care for more patients, offer services to people in remote locations, and reduce the number of no-show appointments. It also helps you control traffic in your office and minimizes crowding, which can reduce disease transmission in your clinic’s waiting area. Learn more about setting up WiFi for a medical practice and how Quantum Fiber internet and 360 WiFi support seamless telemedicine appointments.
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