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The Internet of Things is about to transform the way we live and work. And if it reaches its fullest potential, it will fundamentally change every aspect of our lives.

That sort of disruption is evident in the healthcare sector, where the pen and paper has been the primary means of recording patient information for decades. But now, healthcare technology is changing in major ways.

Digital healthcare applications now let patients schedule their appointments without the need to call a doctor’s office and wait for a receptionist. Healthcare information technology lets doctors carry information with them anywhere they go through apps on their smartphones.

And this increasing connectivity shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s only accelerating. The global internet of medical things (IoMT) market is expected reach $187.60 billion by 2028, more than four times its worth in 2020 at $41.17 billion, according to Fortune Business Insights.

In short, more connection means more accessible data and better healthcare for patients. Below, we’ve laid out a roadmap of healthcare’s past, present, and future thanks to the IoT.

Physicians have adapted to the demands of the workplace and adopted digital tools to keep up. These demands are being driven by evolving business models such as value-based reimbursement and virtual care, and by technologies such as electronic health records (EHRs) and precision medicine.

Arguably the greatest technological leap forward in the last several decades has been the development of EHRs. Previously, hospitals had multiple systems that handled different functions, but EHRs roll all of those into a single system.

Connecting technology systems that contain patient data is a key element of delivering cost-effective, high-quality care. But longstanding challenges preventing healthcare interoperability still exist because business incentives among industry players are misaligned, and patient data is spread too far and wide.

Leading EHR software developers hold the key to unlocking patient data trapped in their technology systems. These companies are frequently criticized for making patient data difficult to access via other EHR products.

Some 80% of clinicians agreed that their current EHR system supports better patient outcomes, according to Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s May 2021 survey.

But EHRs are demonized as the primary cause of clinician burnout, based on poor usability, inefficient functions, and diverting a caregiver’s focus from the patient, to name a few.

The IoT enables healthcare providers to extend their reach outside of the traditional clinical setting. Home monitoring systems allow patients and doctors to keep track of an individual’s health when not in the doctor’s office to prevent unnecessary and costly trips to sit down with a physician.

Another IoT tool US health systems and hospitals are turning to improved outcomes and reduced costs is remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology. This type of patient care leverages connected devices with IoT sensors to offer providers a continuous stream of real-time health data such as heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose monitoring.

As demand for convenience and distanced care continues, and RPM adoption will only increase post-pandemic. We estimate there will be 70.6 million RPM users in the US by 2025, up 56.5% from 2022. In three years, more than one-quarter of the US population will be regularly using a device that remotely tracks or collects their well-being or medical data for their doctors to assess.

In addition to monitoring basic fitness levels, wearables such as the Apple Watch are now taking on more medical device functionality as tech companies eye a growing opportunity in the lucrative digital health market.

Like what you’re reading? Click here to learn more about Insider Intelligence’s leading Health research.

The IoT is slowly starting to weave into healthcare on both the doctor and patient fronts. Ultrasounds, thermometers, glucose monitors, electrocardiograms, and more are all starting to become connected and letting patients track their health. This is crucial for those situations that require follow-up appointments with doctors.

Multiple hospitals have started to utilize smart beds, which can sense the presence of a patient and automatically adjust itself to the correct angle and pressure to provide proper support without the need for a nurse to intervene.

The IoT could also help transform patient care at home. Sadly, some patients don’t take their medication in appropriate doses or at the correct times. Smart medication dispensers in the home could automatically upload information to the cloud and alert doctors when patients don’t take their medicine. More broadly, this type of technology could let doctors know of any potentially dangerous patient behavior.

Several well-known companies are leading the pack when it comes to the IoT and healthcare. These companies are clamoring to gain a major slice of the pie by developing products for specific medical applications, increasing collaborative research and development, and acquiring new startups.

Microsoft, for example, has built its Microsoft Azure cloud platform to facilitate cloud-based delivery of multiple healthcare services. Additionally, Apple has worked toward turning its consumer products into portable health hubs.

Apple Watch continues to advance its health features with each iteration – like its FDA-approved electrocardiogram (EKG) embedded in the Series 4, and both a menstrual health-tracking feature and a dedicated Research app added to the Series 5.

But dozens of other companies and startups are also looking to break into the space, such as:

  • AliveCor
  • Proteus
  • CrossChx
  • Neurotech
  • Sensely
  • Pear Therapeutics
  • Clover Health
  • Babylon Health
  • Genoox
  • Helix
  • Karius

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