Making Secure, Compliant, and Reliable AI-Assisted Surgeries a Reality with Microsoft Azure IoT
AI, autonomous AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices are continuously driving the much-needed transformation in healthcare delivery making it effective, reducing costs, improving patient experience and results.
Now add the low latency of a 5G network to the mix bringing mutually sensor-fitted wearables and IoT medical devices, cloud, analytics, software applications, and health systems and you see the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)—an ecosystem that is set to fully revolutionize healthcare. The focus in such a system will be on proactive, defensive, and personalized care rather than on reactive, symptom-based care and diagnosis needing in-person visits to hospitals.
Smart shirts, boots, and pills
The primary feature of the IoMT is the ability to create, collect, transmit and analyze patient data to allow continuous monitoring of patient health. Healthcare providers are increasingly choosing remote patient monitoring solutions that allow doctors and caregivers to access patient data in real-time from sensors (such as in wearables like Fitbit movement trackers and smart shirts). These trace patient health and help doctors to take proactive measures where needed. For example, a study by the University of Waterloo, Canada, noted that smart shirts could be utilized to monitor and predict a decline in a patient’s heart health. Or take the case of a software and wearables company, Sensoria Health, which helped develop a smart boot with IoT sensors that connect to specific software for continuously monitoring diabetic patients at huge risk of foot amputations.
Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) can also modify drug management. Smart pills equipped with sensors monitor patient’s internal health and estimate the efficacy of medications while smart drug delivery devices can require adherence to medical treatment.
Safer robotic surgeries
Similarly, in the area of AI-assisted robotic surgeries, the suggestions in terms of access and efficiency on healthcare delivery cannot be exaggerated. Autonomous robotic surgeries managed remotely could be one such. World-class surgeons could possibly perform surgery from anywhere in the world without having to be physically existing in the operating room. 5G with its extremely low latency and excellent end-to-end connectivity is making remote surgical methods much safer than ever before.
Saving billions of dollars in healthcare costs
The impact of IoMT will be on decreasing hospital readmissions, improving healthcare access to underserved areas, streamlining hospital workflows, early discovery of the disease, drug management, and considerably decreasing costs by hundreds of billions of dollars. As far back as 2015, Goldman Sachs had predicted that IoT devices would result in a $300-billion savings in yearly healthcare expenditures.
The potential is immense. With the growth of IoT medical devices, estimations show the IoMT market ( consisting of smart wearable gadgets, home-use medical devices, point of care kits for applications varying from real-time monitoring, end-to-end connectivity, tracking, and alerts to remote medical assistance) is assumed to touch USD 254 billion in 2026, up from USD 44 billion in 2018, increasing at a CAGR of 24.4% during this period.
How will Medtech companies provide the potential in this market to truly allow the transformation of healthcare at speed and scale?
Part of the answer lies in establishing the capabilities to collect and analyze the mountains of data produced by millions of IoT devices. These need to be converted into usable insights with advanced analytics, stored and sent at the right time to the right people within various healthcare IT systems to generate value for healthcare providers and patients. The capability to generate, analyze and convey insights about patient health status and care, surgical procedures, hospital workflows, etc, will benefit medtech companies to grow more rapidly.
This is where two important factors will also help MedTech companies stimulate momentum in building connectivity at scale: data security and the part of cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure IoT.
The security bugbear
Security concerns require to be addressed first before IoMT systems can be compared. Because of the multiplicity of relevant devices and collaboration between IoMT stakeholders—payers, providers, MedTech companies, and others—the chance of cyberattacks increases manifold. IoMT devices such as apparently innocuous ones such as fitness trackers or an unpatchable sensor could be a period of entry of hackers into the network.
However, it would be challenging for healthcare providers to create and deploy appropriate security procedures that take into account dependencies on other members in the system. They must actively work together to stop viruses and malware in their connected devices and network monitoring solutions and to proactively protect their wireless networks. IoMT players need to also discuss the issue of the lack of a unified protocol or standard for digital healthcare services that hinders the development of IoMT applications.
Harnessing the power of cloud computing
Cloud services are necessary to orchestrate complex data gathering and analysis and run solutions that create a difference. An IoT solution by definition is made up of one or more IoT devices that interact with one or more back-end services hosted in the cloud. Microsoft Azure for IoT is a leading cloud services provider. Above 75% of the Fortune 500, healthcare organizations and pharmaceutical organizations use Microsoft Azure as a platform to develop or deploy IoT solutions.
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