Internet of Things for Medical Devices – Part 1: Today

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It’s all well and good to talk about pie in the sky ideas around the Internet of Things for Medical Devices (IoT-MD). But, you may be wondering: what can I buy right now? We’re going to discuss the market for IoT-MD as it stands today.

The market today mainly consists of devices which collect and aggregate data.(Khanna and Misra, 2014) This data will then be used to generate immediate alerts or to aid later analysis. So, we are not quite at the stage where tiny nanobots can be released into our bloodstream, at will, in order to aid our virus-killing white blood cells. But, knowledge is power – or, in this day and age, as many Fortune 500 companies have realised, data is power. What can healthcare professionals do with the data provided by our current IoT-MD?

They can action alerts which are raised by these devices. Imagine you’re blood-sugar levels are getting abnormally high without you realising but you have a device that will realise. It won’t stop there, it will alert you. Maybe set off your connected smartphone? Perhaps you can’t action the alert because you’re a diabetic and these abnormal blood-sugar levels have caused you to faint. You’re alone but, not really. This device uses your connected smartphone to dial emergency services and to send your relevant medical data, right now at this moment and for the past 24 hours.

Emergency response staff arrive and immediately they know what you’ve consumed in the past 24 hours and exactly the state in which your vitals are. They can action based on this information and save your life.

Well, this exists. We mentioned how the devices of today track data. It didn’t sound extremely beneficial, but, it’s a real start and has a real impact on lives. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom has launched seven test beds. Two of these seven are based on IoT. One of these two is the Diabetes Digital Coach. We have yet to see the outcome of this project as it is only getting underway.

However, I would presume it will aim to be better than current market leaders in this space (namely the Dexcom G5 Mobile) as otherwise, what’s the point? Therefore, it will be an interesting space.

Another interesting project ongoing today is the Technology Integrated Health Management project (also by the NHS). This project aims to use the IoT in order to improve the quality of life for people suffering from dementia. Again, using data collection techniques which all feed back to a central system where perhaps one doctor can monitor 10 people at a time instead of just one.

The question that comes along with all of this is privacy. Where does the data collection end? What are the implications? Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will go back to our security roots and talk about the Internet of Things for Medical Devices of Tomorrow.

 

References

Khanna, A. and Misra, P. (2014). The Internet of Things for Medical Devices. [online] tcs.com. Available at: http://www.tcs.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/White%20Papers/Internet-of-Things-Medical-Devices_0714-2.pdf [Accessed 19 Nov. 2016].

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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