At least once in your lifetime, you might have been amazed by using a FitBit or similar wearable that measured the number of steps you walked, heart rate, pulse rate, and many other personal metrics. This is one of the widely booming applications of medical use of IoT technology or the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) as some may refer it. These IoMT devices integrate healthcare IT network with wireless connectivity. The data collected by them is transferred via cloud storage platforms. They are currently on their way to revolutionize the health care industry through modern technology.
The total number of wearable devices is forecast to exceed 1 billion by 2022. This is because wearables reflect a broader trend of people using IoT devices for smart clothing accessory or get their health stats which is due to the cheaper pricing, increasing uses, and lighter weight of the wearable. Plus with the 2020s predicted as the decade for IoT based connected devices, even the healthcare sector will tap into the opportunity to harness the benefits of IoMT.
Let us see some commonly used IoMT wearable devices:
- Fitness Tracking Devices:These are the most commonly used wearables. They can collect, analyze, and transmit the physical activity data of a user through inbuilt sensors to their fitness tracking apps on their smartphones. These devices include wristbands, smartwatches, smart shoes, smart shorts, and many other consumer wearable devices, each having their specific mobile apps to help users keep track of their fitness activities and health info.
- Clinical Grade Wearables:This type of IoMT devices are approved by regulatory bodies and are sometimes recommended by doctors. Unlike fitness tracking devices, these are used to improve chronic health conditions and sicknesses. They also require to undergo clinical trials to be certified by the domestic medical regulatory body. These types of devices include smart belts used by elderly patients to detect falling and provides hip protection, chest straps implanted with ECG, body temperature, heart rate sensors, and other essential sensors. They allow doctors to have real-time access to their patient’s health status.
- Remote Patient Monitoring Devices:After a patient is discharged, medical centers use these devices to accelerate their patient’s recovery time. As this kind of wearables help authorized physicians to keep tabs on the vital statistics of patients via virtual visits, it minimizes the need to revisit the hospital unless urgent, thus saving money without compromising on healthcare services.
- Smart Pills:Also known as Nootropics, these smart pills do not technically qualify the definition of wearable, but they are slowly gaining popularity. These are prescribed for treating cognitive dysfunction in patients with Alzheimer’s, ADHD, or schizophrenia. They are equipped with edible electronic sensors that send a wireless message to devices like patches, tablets, or smartphones outside the body when they are ingested. These ingestible pills’ sensors get activated once it comes in contact with stomach fluids. The sensors then transmit data to a wearable patch attached to the patient’s arm from where the data is sent to a mobile app. After the drug component is dissolved, the sensors are flushed out of the body through the gastrointestinal tract of the patient like regular food.
IoMT has the potential to change the way we communicate with devices. Medical wearables are predicted to have a massive impact on the healthcare industry. Although more research and development is crucial to ascertain their total potential and efficacy while dealing with disease, they have proven to be a major help to both people and physicians. Besides, Wearables often offer redundant functionality that cannot compete with smartphones in terms of simplicity and reliability.