Healthcare IoT: 
technology overview and top 10 applications

Healthcare IoT: technology overview and top 10 applications

November 15, 2023

IoMT market statistics

projected IoMT market worth in 2022

Deloitte

IoMT market CAGR between 2021 and 2028

Fortune Business Insights

number of IoMT devices that will be deployed globally by 2026

Juniper Research

Applications of IoT in healthcare: key areas

Remote patient monitoring

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices can continuously measure health parameters and synchronize the data with clinical systems. This way, clinicians can view the history and real-time data about a patient's health conditions, carry out deeper analysis, and receive alerts of dangers to a patient's health.

Efficient diagnostic & treatment

Using smart medical equipment, doctors get results of various examinations like blood tests, MRIs and CT scans, and X-rays much faster. If the devices are connected to analytical systems powered by artificial intelligence, then doctors can receive intelligent insights based on this data. 

Additionally, IoT technology makes diagnostic and treatment procedures possible to perform during virtual neurology visits, telepediatric or telepsychiatry sessions.

Patient self-care

Patients can keep track of their physical and mental health, sleep, and nutrition, get notified of abnormal health indicators and learn to lead healthier lives or manage their condition more effectively with the help of wearable medical devices connected to health and wellness apps on their smartphones.

Smart hospitals enablement

Hospital IoT enables automatic environmental tracking and control in the facilities: air and water quality checks, hygiene monitoring, and temperature balance. It also simplifies inventory management in the hospital and notifies personnel in case of emergencies. Smart hospital devices ensure more responsive care, allowing patients to regulate their medication or notify personnel if needed.

Medication management

Equipment like medication pumps, adverse reaction trackers and drug interaction trackers can ensure timely, safe and accurate administration of medication to patients. Meanwhile, pharmacies can employ smart weights, storage monitoring devices, and discharge and labeling machines to support precise medication management as well as proper storage and disposal.

How IoT in healthcare works

Some people imagine IoT devices as intelligent robots because the system appears to be highly automated. In fact, any object (mechanical or digital) that has a unique identifier (UID) and the ability to collect and transfer data over a network without human intervention can be a part of IoT. Such devices might also analyze the acquired data prior to sharing it or act upon the information they get from one another.

Collect dataCollate and transfer dataStore and analyze data, take actionPatientWearablesmHealth appsRemote patient monitoring systemLab equipmentLab equipmentLab equipmentTest resultsIoT hub or gatewayData storageAnalytics systemDoctors

IoT can make use of multiple technologies and protocols to exchange data, but the most widely employed are radio-frequency identification (RFID), near-field communication (NFC), low-energy Bluetooth, low-energy wireless, radio protocols like ZigBee, Z-Wave and Thread, LTE Advanced, and WiFi-Direct.

These technologies enable low energy use that prolongs the lifetime of devices, supports secure connection, and enables various coverage ranges.

Top 10 use cases of IoT in healthcare

New use cases for healthcare IoT appear every day. Below, we list some of the most popular ones.

Remote patient monitoring

Using IoT devices to monitor a patient's condition in the ward or at home is the most common application of the technology. IoT-powered equipment that automatically collects metrics like heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, or glucose levels in the blood spares patients from traveling to their provider for health checks. Activity trackers also can shed light on a patient's lifestyle and habits, while mood management tools can facilitate more accurate mental assessment.

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Best real-life examples of IoT in healthcare

These IoT solutions may seem like they came from the pages of a fantasy book, yet most of them are already gaining traction and used to enhance patient outcomes and quality of life around the globe.

Itransition developed a multi-tenant unified HIPAA- and FDA-compliant solution, enhancing the quality of patient treatment during the Code Blue event and enabling inventory management in resuscitation carts for Nuvara, a medical manufacturing company that specializes in carts and cabinets for medication delivery and administration in healthcare facilities. This solution automates and facilitates the retrospective surrounding the Code Blue event, which would improve the emergency care provision standards.

Image title: Cart check
Image source: itransition.com — Medical IoT solution for emergency care

 Emergency care IoT solution

IoT platforms used in healthcare

As the popularity of IoMT rises, so does the number of platforms the medical IoT ecosystem can be based on. Each platform has its own unique advantages for app developers, device manufacturers, and care providers.

Amazon Web Service (AWS) for Life Sciences

AWS IoT suite consists of multiple tools for powering smart devices of any complexity and size. AWS IoT Core lets connected devices securely interact with cloud applications and other devices; AWS IoT Device Defender helps secure a fleet of IoT devices; AWS IoT Events facilitates detecting and responding to events from IoT sensors and applications. Amazon also offers FreeRTOS – an operating system for low-power edge devices’ microcontrollers.

Essential devices in healthcare IoT

Software platforms can be viewed as the “brains” of IoT that analyze and transfer data, but it’s the devices that collect patient data in the first place. All IoMT devices can be sorted into three different categories: in-hospital, at-home, and on-body, and all of them have sensors and a network connection.

In-hospital devices

are those primarily used inside the healthcare facility: smart beds in hospital wards, blood collection devices in labs, medical imaging machines like CT scans, smart carts and barcode readers at the pharmacy, temperature, humidity, and hygiene sensors.

At-home devices

include medical devices that patients can use outside the healthcare organization, like scales, inhalers, thermometers, and baby monitors.

On-body gadgets

patients can wear most of the time. These are fitness trackers (often built into smartwatches), blood pressure and heart rate monitors, glucometers, and insulin pumps.

Data storage & analytics

EHR

In-hospital devices

At-home devices

Wearables

Medical apps

IoT communica-tion

Scheme title: Top Connected Devices in Hospitals
Image source: cynerio.com—Research Report: The State of Healthcare IoT Device Security 2022

as a percentage of all IoT/IoMT devices

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Technologies to pair with healthcare IoT

A relatively recent development itself, IoT also works well with other cutting-edge technologies.

Robotics

There are numerous examples of robots playing the role of smart devices, interconnected with the hospital IT infrastructure. These are smart vacuums that receive signals from the areas that need cleaning, diagnostic robo-pills that send information from inside the patient’s digestive system, medication delivery robots, or robotic surgeons that help perform surgeries remotely

AR/VR

AR/VR devices connected to IoT sensors can help patients with sensory rehabilitation and gaining better control over their motor skills. AR/VR sets, integrated with robotic surgery equipment, can help surgeons perform precise operations by showing them an enhanced picture or even projecting the inside and outside of the patient’s body.

AI/ML

Healthcare data gathered by the IoT sensors can be analyzed by sophisticated ML-powered systems to draw valuable insights and make predictions. AI can act on the predictions and send alerts to doctors and patients or initiate other predefined protocols (dispense an extra dosage of medication, call emergency services, etc.)

Cloud

IoMT stores and transfers large volumes of data every minute. Making sure such processes are executed in the cloud safeguards patient data against natural emergency events or malicious attacks, and provides enough storage for conducting different operations and storing large amounts of data.

Our services

Consulting

Our experts help healthcare organizations assess their tech capabilities and requirements, define the most successful IoT adoption strategy, and elaborate a project roadmap aligning with their vision and budget.

Platform development

We can provide healthcare sector companies of any size with an IoT control center to easily manage, configure, and monitor the network of multiple connected devices under one roof.

App development

Our developers create robust, user-friendly mobile apps that complement the network of healthcare IoT devices, enabling employees and patients to access needed functionality anywhere, anytime.

Analytics

Our IoT experts deliver a custom healthcare BI system that can process high volumes of data generated from wearable devices and other IoT tools to provide healthcare companies with valuable insights for improved decision-making.

IoMT implementation roadmap

For IoMT implementation to go smoothly in any healthcare setting, medical providers should draw up a transparent and comprehensive roadmap first. Though each case is unique, our experts distinguish the following stages of IoMT development and implementation processes:

1

Team assembly & requirements gathering

First and foremost, you should put together a project team that will represent the majority of users, help define the requirements for the IoT system and equipment, and communicate with your development partners and IT vendors along the way.

2

Connectivity setup

Together with an IoT software vendor and device manufacturer, choose the IoT connectivity protocol that will work best in your case, drawing on the target coverage range and type of devices.

3

Prototyping

At this stage, the development team builds an interactive prototype consisting of an operable UI/UX and sets in place connectivity protocols. Using it, the internal project team and your software vendor can check the initial project hypothesis.

4

Medical software development & integration

After the software is complete, it is embedded into the medical devices or connected to its built-in system and integrated into the organization’s digital healthcare system.

5

Support & upgrade

Depending on your agreements, vendors and device manufacturers can provide ongoing support and upgrade their software, monitor its performance, and resolve upcoming issues.

Healthcare IoT implementation best practices

Additionally, for an IoMT project to succeed, adopters must follow these healthcare industry best practices:

IoMT security best practices

Data encryption

Hardware protection

Device tracking systems

EMI-shielding

HIPAA & FDA compliance

API protection

Authentication

Network segmentation

1
Include clinicians in the implementation process

The development team should take into account the opinion of actual users of IoMT devices and software. Without their input, the system might turn out unusable.

2
Ensure data security & compliance

Patients are still very apprehensive of IoMT because of its many vulnerability points. Companies that develop IoMT software should embed relevant cybersecurity features in their product.

3
Update the IoT system with time

New tech solutions that can enhance the IoMT network’s security or productivity emerge every year. Healthcare companies should plan ahead to implement changes to their IoMT environment, expand the number of devices or their range of work, and provide new healthcare services.

4
Conduct continuous testing

For the IoMT ecosystem to operate without disruptions, its productivity and security must be continuously monitored and improved.

The benefits of the Internet of things in healthcare

There are numerous advantages to using smart devices in healthcare, from cleaner surgical equipment to improved population health and everything in between.

Resource optimization & care cost reduction

Connected care enables patients to monitor their health, spot unusual health events, and turn to doctors before the condition worsens. It saves doctors’ time, preventing burnout and opening opportunities for professional growth.

Enhanced preventive care

Continuous patient monitoring lets doctors recognize early signs of an illness and timely start treatment. In the long run, IoT-enabled preventive care makes illness prevention and ambulatory and post-discharge treatment more effective.

Improved health outcomes

IoMT enables remote primary care, rehabilitation and treatment, allowing patients to undergo some procedures from the comfort of their homes. This promotes care accessibility, brings psychological benefits, and allows patients with chronic conditions to improve the quality of their lives.

Improved population health

Wellness monitoring devices promote a healthy lifestyle, boosting population health and reducing the number of such deadly conditions as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Personalized & transparent insurance

With a better understanding of health patterns from continuous monitoring and care, hospitals can develop more personalized offers for patients.

Streamlined hospital management

IoMT automates many manual processes, leading to a lower chance of contamination, quicker equipment turnaround, and temperature and air quality optimization for each facility. Smart equipment can monitor itself too, preventing unexpected failure and simplifying maintenance.

Overcoming common challenges of IoT in healthcare

Despite its benefits, IoT is still associated with data breaches, the risk of a crucial device failure, and other issues that put off healthcare providers and make them second-guess the decision to adopt IoT. However, IoT software developers and device manufacturers are successfully solving the existing problems and trying to prevent any upcoming ones.

Challenge

Solution

Over 50% of connected healthcare devices in a typical hospital contain critical risks, claims Cynerio in their recent report.

Effective healthcare IoT segmentation addresses 92% of critical risks detected and reduces the risk for 67% of devices that have a critical risk, according to the same report.

There are many different communication protocols, which makes data aggregation much more difficult and slows down the processes.

Though device manufacturers have not reached an agreement on a single standard for communication protocols, they are working on standardization of the connection between IoT devices for smoother data transfer.

Huge volumes of data take up a lot of space and cause fatigue in professionals working with it.

Data management, analytical and charting tools and cloud-based storage make it easier to manage high volumes of data and transform it into comprehensible insights.

IoT is vulnerable to such unpredictable emergency events as energy disruptions and severe weather conditions.

Most healthcare facilities have already realized the importance of proper hardware and software backup. Most have already started to develop a disaster recovery strategy and adopt recovery tools.

Bringing connectivity into your hospital

The Internet of Medical Things encompasses all medical gadgets and software needed to operate them. Itransition has vast experience with the biggest IoMT-enabling platforms, all classes of medical devices, and the development of all kinds of medical software to deliver the most innovative IoT solutions for healthcare providers. We are positive that the IoMT market will grow unprecedentedly over the next few years, and are determined to contribute to elevating the quality of IoMT software.