Upping Digital IQ
IoMT: The Coming Digital Impact on Medicine
The internet has permeated business and professional worlds across the board, but observers believe that health care is ten years behind in taking the maximum advantage of digital capabilities. A firm’s “digital IQ” reflects knowledge and use of digital capabilities in its operations. The healthcare industry has a surprisingly low score of 65 percent. Still, healthcare has more CEOs that actively promote digital technology than any other industry.
Now medicine is beginning to catch up. According to Sarah Iqbal, writing for the website KNect365 Life Sciences, a new subculture called the “Internet of Medical Things” (IoMT) is drawing interest from people across the healthcare industry. These people share an attitude of valuing the interconnectedness between healthcare equipment and software, and of connections between such systems. This outlook is part of a larger “IoT” constituency that focuses on digital connections in general including phones, appliances, cars and even buildings.
“Wearables” and biosensors, mobile data collection and transmission instruments, are becoming important in clinical trials. They not only allow subjects to be at a distance from a trial site and continue with their normal lives, but also allow researchers and physicians to share the data that is generated, making for briefer and more conclusive trials.
According to Iqbal, “Through the devices, patients can engage in regular surveys pertaining to their treatment and be notified about medication regimes. Additionally, other mobile capabilities such as feedback, gamification and reminders can be channeled to support behavioral change.”
An IoMT-connected research setting lets clinical trial organizers choose from a larger pool of potential subjects and find those who are most suited for their particular study. It then helps to keep subjects participating by letting them have their normal routines while the remote sensors they carry report the necessary data.
This data is immediately available to multiple users, who include not only the clinical study researchers, but also insurers, drug companies and even the subjects’ employers. Finally, the volume of data and the speed of access to it make the doctor’s job easier and improve medical outcomes.
The “Internet of Things” and its idea of connectedness is just starting to reach medicine and pharma. Its impact on research and healthcare will be significant. Aside from convincing managers to take IoMT as seriously as the professionals are starting to do, the biggest problem associated with it is the risk of hacking, threatening both patient privacy and corporate proprietary rights. Nonetheless, these are dangers to everything touched by the internet.
Iqbal concluded, “Clinical led improvement, enabled by digital technology, is transforming the delivery of clinical trials, but strategic decisions about investment in digital technology can often be a footnote in board discussions. This needs to change. This decision needs to move center stage. Leaders in the healthcare industry need to widen their understanding of the digital health terrain and the possibilities it offers, particularly to meet the immense productivity challenge ahead, and to gain practical insights that will help avoid expensive mistakes.”