The optimal scenario for the future of healthcare technology equates to a network of smart devices that can automate and transform care delivery efficiently. However, we are still a long way from achieving this target, as the healthcare industry faces various obstacles, including access barriers, cybersecurity, lack of interoperability, and data accuracy. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) has emerged as a solution to these challenges, turning them into growth opportunities.
What is IoMT?
By definition, IoMT refers to a networked infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, health systems, and services. Using IoT communication and technology, it connects patients, doctors, and pharmacists located anywhere in the world. IoMT uses smart devices such as wearables and implanted biometric monitors to collect data from the human body and provide useful knowledge to doctors. The data obtained by this network of devices can support better diagnostics, chronic disease monitoring, and remote patient care.
Rapid growth and partnerships
The revolutionary potential of IoMT has left several industries including healthcare, consumer electronics, and software firms wanting to get in on the action. According to a Frost & Sullivan report, the IoMT market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 26.6% to reach $72 billion by 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic catapulted growth in the IoMT market as the need for remote patient monitoring (RPM) and telehealth providers increased.
Healthcare and technology companies are entering into cross-industry partnerships, to leverage applicable skills for providing effective IoMT products and services. Healthcare giants like Philips and Medtronic, as well as technology powerhouses such as Apple, IBM, Cisco, and Qualcomm, are all building capabilities in IoMT applications.
Our research shows that partnerships in IoMT are typically led by the following objectives:
Key trends driving partnerships in IoMT
As IoMT applications become more mainstream, it’s giving rise to new challenges, opportunities, and threats to companies in the digital health market, prompting increased M&A activity. Here are some of the key trends driving these partnerships.
1. Increased focus on cybersecurity
Although connected medical devices aid in reliable diagnostics, improved patient management, and standardized monitoring, their security is critical to ensuring that patient privacy is not compromised.
With the proliferation of connected medical devices, healthcare CIOs and MedTech OEMs are becoming increasingly concerned about medical device security. They are constantly working on detecting risks, monitoring system behavior, and taking the required steps to eliminate security vulnerabilities to protect confidential medical data. According to Market Data Forecast, the global healthcare cybersecurity market is projected to surpass USD 27B by 2025, rising at a CAGR of 19.1% from USD 8.2B in 2018.
The proliferation of IoMT devices has made patient data more vulnerable to cyber threats. Keeping these risks in mind, more IoMT firms are forging strategic partnerships with cybersecurity firms to protect patient data and privacy. For instance, IoMT cybersecurity company Ordr has announced an expanded partnership with Fortinet, a cybersecurity solutions provider, to deliver advanced security solutions across network-connected IoMT devices.
Armis®, an agentless device protection network, and Viakoo®, a pioneer in automated IoT cyber hygiene, have also collaborated to resolve industry cybersecurity challenges.
2. To leverage advanced technologies and innovation
Building an effective IoMT solution demands the adoption of emerging digital technology to simplify and automate products. Therefore, choosing the right technology solution provider through various stages of the digital transformation process is vital to the success of med-tech companies.
As connectivity and improved sensor technology are crucial for successful IoMT devices, healthcare companies continue to look for ways to adopt smart technology and automation to increase product efficacy.
Cisco, IBM, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Microsoft are some of the leading technology companies in this space. They provide solutions for IoMT products, services, technologies, and platforms for healthcare organizations.
In December 2020, Siemens Healthineers announced its partnership with IBM Deutschland to launch an open digital platform to improve the IoMT networking of Germany’s healthcare system. The new platform would simplify the safe exchange of patient data between service providers by leveraging international standards such as Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE).
Genoox, a cloud-based genome sequencing analysis platform, plans on combining the scalability of Microsoft Genomics’ Azure cloud with its IoMT-based advanced architecture for Next-Generation DNA Sequencing (NGS) to advance genomics, and support clinicians and scientists who need a rapid delivery of clinical data insights and disease diagnosis.
3. Better integration with medical wearables
COVID-19 has sparked a surge in popularity for wearable technology. According to a report by IDTechEx, the pandemic has brought additional attention to sensors, including tracking of early-onset conditions, facilitation of wearables for contact tracing, and remote patient monitoring for patients in isolation. It has also predicted that this industry’s annual revenue will cross USD 5B by 2025.
The increasing demand for wearables is also serving as a gateway to accelerate the adoption of IoMT devices in healthcare. With real-time monitoring services provided by these devices, HCPs across the world are recognizing the benefits of IoMT.
The Apple Heart Study, which showed the feasibility of smartwatch-based atrial fibrillation screening, is one of the most well-known studies on wearable healthcare technology to date. They are working with Johnson & Johnson on a large-scale clinical study to test, diagnose, and treat diseases.
There have been various other partnerships in this space to leverage remote diagnostics for smart wearables. KaHa, a Singapore-based IoT and smart wearables company has collaborated with healthcare firm EasyCare International (iDOC) to launch a remote monitoring solution. EasyCare has called this partnership a significant first step in leading their fitness and healthcare ecosystem into remote monitoring technologies. This remote monitoring approach takes advantage of the inherent synergy that exists between their care delivery services and wearable technology.
4. Medication management partnerships are focused on R&D and distribution
In the medication management segment of IoMT devices, smart pills are gaining popularity, as they reduce the need for invasive procedures. They enable the transmission of real-time information, while improvements in batteries and onboard memory make them useful for long-term sensing inside the body.
As the adoption of smart technology across healthcare increases, companies are increasing R&D of such smart medication devices and focusing on bringing them to markets.
In January 2021, clinical software developer Pear Therapeutics announced its partnership with adherence tool manufacturer, EtectRx, to develop a product that blends the former’s digital therapeutics with a digital pill offering. While the details of the research aren’t disclosed, the product is said to be focused on mental health applications.
Besides smart pills, healthcare companies are also looking into the possibilities of using smart pill-bottles. For instance, AdhereTech, a smart devices provider, has collaborated with specialty pharmacy US Bioservices, to analyze 18 months of fill-level data for patients using the Smart Pill Bottles for their medication.
On the smart medication distribution front, Medtronic, one of the world’s leading medical device companies, has partnered with Amazon, to go to market with their smart pill device — PillCam Genius. CapsoVision, Inc., a medical device innovator, is also part of a distribution agreement with healthcare delivery provider PENTAX Medical, since 2018, to market CapsoCam Plus®, the only capsule endoscope with four cameras and 360° wide-angle lateral imaging of the small bowel.
Moving forward, as advanced medical devices witness widespread proliferation and increased research, there is growing interest among healthcare companies regarding the production of IoMT devices based on specific disease conditions.
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