The Internet of Things (IoT) Medical for a Healthier Life

picture of person connected into IOT medical
Written by
Miranda Kay, RN
February 24, 2023

Do you have a digital twin out there in the metaverse? Not yet, but medical science can now simulate your heart or knee and use it to test treatments without risk or pain for you in the real world!  

While this is still an emerging technology, many dynamic components are now readily available, with even more being designed and developed at the speed of the 21st century. These innovations will help you and your patients live healthier lives in 2023 and beyond. 

Table of Contents

IT, IoT, and IoMT: What Does Each One Mean?

Let's take a look at healthcare information technology (Health IT) and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT or IoT Medical), a subset of the Internet of Things (IoT). The I in Health IT stands for information, and the I in IoMT stands for internet. On top of that, the T in IT is for technology, and the T in IoMT is for things. Yes, that's right, things!

Health IT deals with electronic systems used to track, store, share, and analyze health information generated by clinicians or other professionals, using elements like electronic health records (EHRs), personal health records (PHRs), electronic prescribing (E-prescribing), and privacy and security systems. 

group of medical staff monitoring patients via telemedicine
Doctors and nurses help monitor patient's medical care remotely.

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of physical objects or "things" connected to the internet through built-in sensors. These objects form dynamic networks, interact with users, collect data, and use artificial intelligence to transform them into practical knowledge to guide decision-making for many professional fields, including healthcare. This changes professional spaces into even smarter areas.

IoMT (a subset of IoT focused on medicine) makes you nurses and doctors more intelligent, more informed, and quicker to respond than you have ever been and more than any previous generation. IoMT incorporates, communicates with, and uses Health IT. It also interconnects medical sensors and devices ("things") that connect to the internet to collect, analyze, and transmit biomedical patient data to healthcare providers in real-time. The patients generate the data through wearable devices, implantable sensors, smart beds, and other technologies. It also involves communication networks and secure channels between patients, medical staff, and medical facilities.

It is revolutionizing healthcare, improving patient outcomes, reducing costs, and enhancing the patient and staff experience.

A significant distinction between healthcare IT and IoMT is the level of automation. While healthcare IT solutions are often designed to automate specific tasks, such as appointment scheduling and billing, IoMT focuses on automating data collection, analysis, and transmission, which medical professionals can use to inform their decisions or to take timely action. IoMT senses, analyzes, and acts on streaming data as it happens. Smart speakers can remind someone that they need to take their medication or allow them to contact a relative or caregiver before the crisis appears.

Common Devices

All healthcare systems depend on monitoring patients' Health, and IoMT makes the monitoring highly accurate and immediate. An overwhelming percentage of IoMT devices fall under this umbrella, including:

  • Vital sign sensors that measure specific signs (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure) directly and continuously from the human body.
  • Mental health monitors measure stress and depression.
  • An intelligent inhaler for asthma patients integrates connectivity with sensor technology that helps record data about the time and date of use and the patient's location at each service.
  • Fall detectors for the growing elderly population.
  • Neurological monitoring applications that measure and read brain signals and help patients suffering from epilepsy, Alzheimer's, stroke, and Parkinson's.
  • Fitness tracking. 

These monitors and sensors often come in the form of wearable devices, including smartwatches, wristbands, fabric in smart clothing, and implant devices. 

Tears to the Rescue! Tears have been discovered as a sensing site with substantial diagnostic potential. Smart contact lenses, one of the newest innovations in IoMT, are currently being developed to collect healthcare data from tears and will be especially useful for continuous glucose monitoring! 

Patient using a mobile app to register their blood sugar
Patients are more involved in their care by engaging digitally.

Medical Trends in 2023: Does Technology Have Anything to Do with Health Equity?

Wearable Health Devices: 

About 200m devices were sold in 2020, and the sales are expected to double by 2026. The early diagnosis, personalized treatment, and management of chronic disease made possible by the wearables promise to lower costs and save lives.

Telehealth Virtual Visits:

Thanks to the Covid -19 pandemic, much of the world has learned to use telemedicine, and it is an efficient and cost-effective way to provide healthcare. Telehealth has extended healthcare access, directly strengthening health equity. As published by Becker's Healthcare, over 60% of the organizations with telehealth programs plan to expand these programs in 2023. 

What do nurses do in telehealth? The Nursa team provides a complete guide to the telehealth nursing specialty.

Artificial Intelligence (AI):

AI can reduce health inequities both in the experience as a patient and in transformative changes in the system. AI-powered diagnostic tools and remote monitoring systems enable patients to receive timely and accurate diagnoses in rural or low-income areas or near cutting-edge health centers. AI can also analyze vast amounts of data to identify healthcare delivery and outcomes disparities, helping policymakers develop targeted interventions that promote health equity. 

AI technologies, such as computer vision and natural language processing, already deeply embedded in the healthcare ecosystem, will become the norm as evidence of their usefulness grows throughout 2023.  

This year is ripe with Health IT and IoMT innovations and advances, helping in many healthcare-related areas such as healthcare logistics, patient flow management, and revenue cycle management.

Health IT and IoMT face challenges and have an almost unimaginable scope for improvement. Still, the healthcare industry is taking technological innovation seriously to create a better future and more significant health equity for patients and healthcare professionals.

Blog published on:
February 24, 2023

Miranda is a Registered Nurse, Medical Fact Checker, and Publishing Editor at Nursa. Her work has been featured in publications including the American Nurses Association (ANA), Healthcare IT Outcomes, International Living, and more.

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