Today we are dwelling in an era where M2M communication (Machine to machine communication) forges a new way of life. Currently we have at least 12 million cloud connected devices in operation. This number is expected to cross the 20 billion mark by 2020. The possibilities of sensor embedded (cloud connected) devices have been explored in every field! Yet what seems to be the need of the hour is the rapid advancement of IoT, the Internet Of Things, in the medical sphere.
While IoT devices have set a strong foothold in developed nations, there are a millions of users who are currently tapping into the novelty of these machines as you are reading this.
IoT and cloud connected devices are all set to revolutionize the medical ecology in a huge way. The medical industry around the world is gradually gearing towards selling products and limiting the sale of services. IoT, which also constitutes as the third big wave of the Internet, harbingers endless business opportunities bringing together computing magnets of the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft and many others and prominent pharmaceutical companies to create devices that will inculcate transparency between caregivers and patients.This evolutionary development is providing newer inroads for smaller pharmaceutical manufacturers to contribute in a bigger way in the field. What further propels development in this area is the lowered cost of elementary materials like silicon that are widely used in the creation of devices. The unprecedented miniaturization of devices also serves as an important factor in aiding the growth of medical wearables. This in turn lowers cost of the device, maximizing profits for the manufacturer, buyer, and the seller.
The Advantages of IoT Medical Devices In India
In a country like India, a development in this area this would prove beneficial in more than ways than one! This can be for a number of reasons.
- India is known as the IT hub. Hence we are certainly aware of the possibilities of production of cloud based computing devices at lower costs, and are able to produce specialized devices to suit consumer needs.
- We can maximize the reach of medical services using a virtual platform. This in turn gives doctors the impetus to reach out and cure patients even in remote villages at the click of a mouse.
- The use of medical wearables ensures continuous and consistent monitoring of the patient at a single cost.
- The devices play a critical role in avoiding a mishap, as an emergency can be arrested with proper medical attention while it is just developing.
- Devices help avoid unwanted accidents like drug overdose, since only measured quantities are delivered to the patient.
- It eradicates cost of repeatedly producing reports and going through needless pain and anxiety. The levels captured by embedded sensors are standardized. The recorded values are set keeping in mind the climatic conditions, the human body type, dietary intake, and other such factors that could influence the reading from individual to individual.
In the medical field, the IoT devices are broadly divided into two categories namely a) Smart external wearables b) Smart implantable wearables.
Smart watches are fast becoming a way for life for every health conscious individual. Enlisted below are just two exciting developments in the world of smart external and implantable medical devices. The innovations however don’t stop here! One can find devices that can control brain rhythm, curb obesity, detect cancer, infuse medication at a desired set time, and a lot more. All the recorded data from these medical devices are programmed smartly to appear on an app that can be installed on your smart-phone that can be accessed anytime anywhere.
Some Path-Breaking External Medical Devices
Very often we have issues with posture. This causes back problems and a hoard of other unwarranted ailments. To arrest this problem, ‘Lumo fit’ has designed a wearable that can be attached beneath your clothes, and it can accurately monitor posture. The device will instantly beep when it detects the wrong posture, forcing the patient to take corrective measures.
Google has devised interesting lenses that help track diabetes. The values are recorded using tears from the eyes. This particular innovation is a path breaker as it eliminates the need procure blood in order to capture values.
Some Upcoming Implantable Medical Devices
Since Diabetes is ruthlessly taking over, researchers from the University of Boston have innovated bionic pancreas that curb diabetes. The device is complete with advanced sensors, which communicates all the recorded data onto an application that is installed on your smartphone.
Have you ever read of pills that communicate? Well, the Proteus Digital Health has developed a smart pill that doesn’t only record data onto your smart phone, but will directly communicate with your clinician. This pill is infused with certain microprocessors that help record all heath data depending upon the requirement of the patient. This is particularly useful to doctors to record side effects of any medication prescribed by them.
Disadvantages of Medical IoT devices
Inspite of the breathtaking innovations in the field, there are quite a few disadvantages that compel the manufactures and developers to rethink the potential of these devices.
- Networks in India are only seemingly seamless, that causes discrepancy in recording the values and transmitting the data effectively.
- External wearables may prove cumbersome for the wearer if the device is to be worn for prolonged time periods.
- Standalone features on devices do not entice the customer. They are looking for a lot more in a product for the offered price that is essentially high for the consumer once it hits the market and taxes are levied on the same.
- There is a lurking worry of how medical insurance companies will cover device costs in the future.
- The wearer could be put though issues of privacy, as the information can be fabricated as some of the devices can be virtually hacked.
- Researchers also overlook issues of allergy to the device both internally and externally.
- Also the device working with patients could prove tricky indeed! A lot of patients could resort to their own quick fix DIY resorts that could deflect the reading on the imbedded or implanted monitor, throwing measured values on prescribed medication off guard.
- India is a poverty stricken country, will people in the remoter area be able to procure these devices with ease and also afford the same? After all health doesn’t underline a potential target audience.
As we key off I would like to add, that when one looks at growth, profits, and sometimes an individual’s well-being, a lot gets overlooked in terms of the quality of material. Also manufacturers only look at the initial cost they tend to overlook all those percentages that get heaped on the final product making it fairly difficult for an average person to purchase the product.