This is the second article in the series on Internet of Medical Things. It focuses on IoMT classifications by regulators and by functions, and touches upon the advantages of IoMT.
There are several ways to approach classification of connected medical devices.
Prior to the overview based on functions, it is important to look at the classification by large regulatory agencies like the FDA, European Medicines Agency and Health Canada, as each class of devices follows a different route for their approval cycles. Medical devices are classified as follows:
- Class I or non-invasive devices, which rate as low to moderate risk. This category includes enema kits, elastic bandages, manual stethoscopes and bedpans.
- Class II or invasive devices that carry moderate to high risk, such as acupuncture needles, infusion pumps, air purifiers, surgical drapes and pregnancy test kits.
- Class III or active devices, which usually sustain or support life, are implanted, or present potential unreasonable risk of illness or injury. This category includes implantable pacemakers, pulse generators, HIV diagnostic tests, automated external defibrillators and breast implants.
Fitness Wearables: These are the consumer wearables which have in-built sensors to collect physical activity related data of each individual and track the fitness regimen with the help of connected apps on smartphones. Available in the form of wristbands, smartwatches and smart apparel.
The examples of consumer wearable under the internet of medical things include wristbands and smartwatches like Fitbit and iWatch, Smart shoes like Under Armour, Mbody connected shorts from Myontec, UV sense – a wearable UV light tracker on the thumbnail for documenting exposure to UV light etc.
Clinical Grade Wearables: The clinical grade wearables are the IoT devices which have been certified and approved for use by the regulatory authority and are generally used on the basis of a physician’s prescription. Unlike consumer wearables which are lifestyle devices, these are specifically aimed at clinical or at home use to improve chronic conditions and specific ailments. Clinical grade wearable devices as a part of the internet of medical things (IoMT) let doctors have access to the complete real-time health stats promoting interoperability and increasing patient engagement in their health outcomes as well.
Remote Patient Monitoring Devices: remote monitoring of the patient post hospitalization in case of management of both acute and chronic diseases is made simpler by use of at home health monitoring devices and sensors. The RPM devices allow for the medical practitioner to have virtual telemedicine visits and track the disease progression and recovery rate. RMP devices are used to test glucose and cholesterol levels, for electrolyte and enzyme analysis, testing for drug abuse, infectious diseases, and pregnancy testing.
Smart pills: FDA recently approved smart pills with ingestible sensors to keep track of patient’s compliance to medication. The pill contains the drug with a sensor that gets activated on coming in contact with the stomach fluids.
Upon activation, the data about pill consumption is transmitted to the wearable patch on the patient’s arm that further transfers the information to the smartphone app.
Connecting all things medical delivers huge payoffs. Healthcare providers, insurers, and patients all benefit from what IoMT has to offer:
Data Accessibility in Real Time
One of the greatest benefits that Internet of Things medical devices provide is the ability for doctors to access patient health data in realtime. Rather than having to visit a patient’s room or call their nurse, a cardiologist can view a patient’s heart monitor readings right on his or her smartphone. IoMT allows insurers to view patient data more quickly, too, making claims processing faster and more accurate. And patients can view their own data, using online patient portals.
Low Per-Patient Cost
Goldman Sachs estimates IoMT will save the healthcare industry $300 billion. Since IoMT allows for faster access to inpatient data, operational efficiency is greatly improved. Rather than time spent relaying patient information to the doctor, a nurse can spend their time doing more important things.
Further, faster data access means faster data analysis, quicker diagnosis and treatment. Finally, the value of this benefit cannot be overstated, remote monitoring lets doctors detect and treat issues before they become more serious.
Also, patients get new treatment facilities using better healthcare devices and medicines at affordable cost. This lowers overall expense for patients.
Fast Per-Patient Implementation
IoMT devices are designed to be fast and easy to implement. Small, wireless IoMT sensors even allow patients and healthy individuals to check their own vitals.