Have you heard of IoMT?

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More and more, we are hearing about IoMT (Internet of Medical Things), but what is the market potential behind this term? In short, we can say that IoMT is the set of technological devices used to collect, send and analyze medical data over the internet. These are, for example, remote monitoring systems, surgical robotics, or other equipment connected to beds that aim to improve patient care and the efficiency of healthcare teams. 

The emergence of IoMT has been driven by “an increase in the number of connected medical devices capable of generating, collecting, analyzing or transmitting medical data or images and connecting to healthcare provider networks, transmitting data to a repository in the cloud or on internal servers,” defines a Deloitte report.

What this technology infrastructure has the potential to deliver are more accurate diagnoses, lower incidence of medical errors, and reduced costs for healthcare services. To exploit these opportunities, smart hospitals are expected to deploy 7.4 million connected IoMT devices worldwide by 2026, which represents more than 3,850 smart devices per hospital and a total growth of 231% compared to 2021, according to a study by Juniper Research. “Smart hospital technologies generate huge volumes of data, which means that edge computing functions provided by network operators will be crucial to the success of IoMT systems,” explains Adam Wears, research analyst at Juniper Research.

The smart hospital market will be worth $59 billion by 2026, up from $29 billion in 2021; representing an average annual growth of 15%. The US and China are leading the global adoption of smart hospitals; counting $17 billion market value by 2021. This is the result of digital health initiatives implemented in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with high levels of digitization in their respective healthcare infrastructures. And will account for over 60% of global smart hospital spending by 2026.

The study also revealed that smart hospitals in the United States and China lead the global adoption of IoMT devices, which will account for 21% and 41% of connected devices, respectively, by 2026. The digital initiatives implemented during the pandemic in addition to the high levels of digitalization already in place in the healthcare infrastructure were key to securing the leadership positions of these countries.

In addition, the researchers highlighted that remote monitoring is key to smart hospital service delivery. They comment that the accelerated adoption of this service delivery modality increased significantly during the pandemic due to the difficulties of face-to-face care. It is anticipated that this trend will become established over the next five years “as patients become accustomed to remote monitoring”. 

However, the researchers warned that the instantaneous (real-time) nature of remote monitoring requires low latency and high bandwidth connections to ensure uninterrupted and non-varying transmission of data on health conditions. 

For Wears, remote monitoring in healthcare presents opportunities for network operators to be inserted into the digital healthcare value chain. 

Examples of innovation

CENSIS – Scotland’s Innovation Center for sensing, imaging, and Internet of Things technologies – is supporting a range of projects in hospitals and healthcare facilities to look at ways to raise the efficiency of staff and improve the experience of patients and also care teams, as well as raising sustainability levels and saving public money.

Beyond the clinical spectrum, CENSIS is active in a significant growth area for CENSIS, which includes monitoring room usage, preventative maintenance of equipment, and tracking of expensive portable devices.  

Another driving element of IoMT are Long Distance Low Power Networks (LPWAN), which can run on small, inexpensive batteries for many years and are capable of transferring very small packets of data, making them ideal for monitoring e.g. heart rate, body temperature, or oxygen saturation. This has the potential to provide personalized care in home environments.

A major growth area for CENSIS in the next decade has to do with the project in association with an entity that provides innovative, high-quality care for the elderly and people with long-term physical disabilities. The intention is to integrate IoMT technology into the community that will ensure the quality of life for community residents.

Scottish Health Innovations also showcases other examples of innovation, such as smart pills that use microscopic sensors to transmit data to artery-implanted devices that can alert health professionals to early signs of a stroke.

Sector forecasts

It is certain that the pandemic served as a catalyst for the development and adoption of digital technologies for the healthcare sector. Investment and business in 2021 exceeded that of previous years. With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.5%, this industry is forecast to reach about $650 billion by 2026, according to digital health and medical technologies investment management firm Spex Capital. Virtual care through telehealth and remote monitoring solutions will continue to be an extremely important vehicle for promoting broad access to healthcare. However, there is still great potential to be tapped with many more IoMT innovations.

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