The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to combine with the power of artificial intelligence, blockchain, and other emerging technologies to create the “smart hospitals” of the future, according to a new report by Frost & Sullivan.
The IoT – also commonly known in the healthcare industry as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) – consists of any and all medical devices, patient monitoring tools, wearables, and other sensors that can send signals to other devices via the internet.
These tools generate massive amounts of data that must be stored, integrated, and analyzed in order to generate actionable insights for chronic disease management and acute patient care needs.
IoT data is a valuable addition to other clinical data sources, such as the electronic health record (EHR), that allow providers to monitor patients on an ongoing basis or predict changes in an individual’s health status.
“Escalating demand for remote patient monitoring, along with the introduction of advanced smartphones, mobile applications, fitness devices, and advanced hospital infrastructure, are setting the stage for establishing smart hospitals all over the world,” says the report.
Predictive analytics strategies are beginning to rely on the availability of data from wearables and IoT devices both inside and outside of the hospital.
Predicting patient deterioration or infection in the inpatient setting requires continuous feedback from bedside devices, while home monitoring tools such as Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuff, scales, and pill bottles can keep patients adherent to chronic disease management protocols outside of the clinic.
According to a recent analysis by Deloitte, more than two-thirds of medical devices will be connected to the internet by 2023, compared to just 48 percent of devices in 2018.
The uptick in connected devices will lead to the availability of more data for analytics, which will in turn require novel methods of extracting meaning from raw datasets.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning strategies are ideally adapted to managing and analyzing continuous data streams in large amounts, says Frost & Sullivan, and will be critical for ensuring that actionable insights are presented to providers without overloading their workflows.
“Sensors, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and blockchain are vital technologies for IoMT as they provide multiple benefits to patients and facilities alike,” said Varun Babu, Senior Research Analyst, TechVision.
“For instance, they help with the delivery of targeted and personalized medicine while simultaneously ensuring seamless communication and high productivity within smart hospitals.”
The potential to improve efficiency, engage patients continuously, and get ahead of adverse events has created a significant commercial opportunity for device manufacturers, software vendors, and analytics developers, adds a separate report by MarketersMedia.
Currently, the global IoT market is valued at $20.59 billion, and is anticipated to grow at a 25.2 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) until 2023 to reach $63.43 billion.
The market includes implantable tools, such as cardiac devices, as well as internet-connected ventilators, imaging systems, vital signs monitors, respiratory devices, infusion pumps, and anesthesia machines, MarketersMedia says.
Frost & Sullivan also anticipates that emerging categories of IoT devices, including adhesive skin sensors, will contribute to the financial opportunity, while developing technologies, such as blockchain, will enhance the security, interoperability, and analytics potential of these tools.
In order to succeed, providers and developers will need to collaborate on creating and deploying data standards and shared protocols to ensure the seamless exchange of data across disparate systems.
“The main objective of IoMT is to eliminate unnecessary information within the medical system so that doctors can focus on diagnoses and treatment,” said Babu.
“Since it is an emerging technology, technology developers need to offer standardized testing protocols so that they can convince hospitals of their safety and efficacy and make the most of their massive potential.”