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Planning for Future Internet of Medical Things Growth

Internet of Medical Things is taking over healthcare as clinicians and patients desire more advanced tools. Planning for a scalable IoMT environment is critical.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Patients and clinicians are interacting with digital devices more, which has led to the rise of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). These tools are advancing rapidly and are being used to treat patients more efficiently and accurately.

The major advancements in wireless technology over the past several years have led to mainstream adoption of IoMT devices. The ability to successfully and securely connect these devices to the network gives clinicians the opportunity to use this technology to treat their patients.

IoMT devices are most often associated with mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones, but connected medical devices also include things like patient monitoring devices and MRI machines.

IoMT is “a connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications and health systems and services,” according to a recent Deloitte report. This ecosystem of connected devices is transforming the healthcare industry by allowing organizations to streamline clinical operations and workflow management.

Deloitte predicted that connected medical devices will significantly impact patients and clinicians as it transforms the healthcare industry. IoMT is also expected to shape the future of the healthcare industry as payers and providers see the impact connected devices have on value-based care incentives.

“A series of technological and cultural revolutions are allowing technology and people to be better connected to one another, leading to the development of the Internet of Things,” said Deloitte.

One of the biggest takeaways from the report is that the medical technology industry has a significant role to play in improving value-based care. However, to improve value-based care, IoMT vendors and healthcare organizations must:

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of end users
  • Develop new funding, business, and operating models
  • Understand interoperability requirements
  • Maintain cybersecurity
  • Navigate regulatory change
  • Attract digital talent and build digital capability
  • Maintain trust in a digital age
  • Improve the adoption of medical technology at scale

Each of these areas needs to be fully understood and explored for connected medical devices to fulfill their value-based care potential.

Understanding the end user is typically overlooked by device manufacturers and developers who tend to focus on how the backend works and interacts with other systems. Overlooking end-user satisfaction with IoMT devices, particularly smartphones and tablets, can disrupt workflow.

A device or app that is not functioning to its highest capacity can cause end users frustration. Tools that aren’t built in a way that caters to what the end user needs can lead to a decease in productivity. A decrease in productivity goes against value-based care and can also lead to wasted funds because the IoMT tools are not functioning more efficiently than their predecessors. 

How these tools are being used needs to be examined. Applications should be designed with each individual end-user job in mind. Just because different departments are using the same application doesn’t mean that they are using it the same way.

Organizations should consider the end user in their IoMT strategy. Including end users in the planning and testing process can iron out end-user kinks or inefficiencies developers might not be aware of.

Interoperability is also a major challenge for IoMT. Healthcare organizations are made up of many different health systems, and these systems need to be integrated with IoMT devices. Organizations should be aware that not all connected medical devices have interfaces to communicate with the network the same way. Understanding this can help providers and device manufacturers increase system integration and interoperability.

Deloitte recommended that organizations use open source development platforms so custom changes can be made to accommodate different kinds of devices.

To prepare for the inevitable takeover of IoMT, provider organizations need to make sure they have an IT staff that understands multiple kinds of devices and signals and what data assets can and should be accessed by these devices.

Understanding the big picture is key to unlocking the full potential for IoMT devices for value-based care. The more care and effort that goes into developing and testing these devices, the better they will be for improving long-term ROI and increasing patient workflow. 

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