Credit: Photo by: Richard Eldridge | VIRIN: 180801-F-HX758-1012.JPG
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most exciting developments of the internet age. IoT refers to the system of interconnected computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, or objects that have the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. In other words, it’s about how everyday devices are connected to the internet or each other. These objects can be anything from home appliances to motor vehicles. Often, the appeal of IoT devices is pure convenience. Imagine how great it would be if your car could automatically sense unusual traffic patterns and reroute you ahead of time, or walking downstairs to coffee that began brewing when your alarm clock told your coffee maker you were awake.
Of course, the possibilities for IoT devices, much like the internet itself, are endless. And they can certainly move beyond mere convenience. In fact, one of the hottest sectors for IoT devices right now is healthcare. The connectedness of this technology is a big advantage for medical devices, especially those that track patient vitals. Below is a round up of some of the most exciting IoT medical devices of the present — and potential devices for the near future.
Designed for diabetes patients, the Eversense XL CGM system utilizes a 90 day sensor that sits below the patient’s skin. The sensor communicates with a smart transmitter which then sends blood glucose levels to a mobile app on the patient’s phone. Glucose readings are sent to the app every five minutes, and if glucose levels are headed towards a high or low an alert is sent to the phone. Patients can also configure the app to share their information with friends or family.
Propeller Health provides technology to better understand and manage asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in order to reduce hospitalizations and ER visits. One piece of tech is a sensor that can be attached to rescue inhalers or controller medications. Once connected, it tracks when the medication is used. The app then provides data that offers insights into a patient’s triggers and helps them stay connected to their family and care team. The results are impressive, with up to 79% fewer asthma attacks, 50% more doses taken on schedule, and up to 50% more symptom free days. This system is already FDA-approved as a medical device.
QardioCore is an ECG monitor designed to track heart health. Users can wear this device anywhere, including work, the gym, or at home. QardioCore sends information to health professionals, which helps limit the need for physical visits, saving patients time and energy. The data helps build a complete picture of heart health, allowing patients to better monitor health conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Though not on the market yet, these tiny sensors are small enough to be taken like a pill — and could eventually replace colonoscopies. It works by measuring the levels of different stomach gases, encoding this data, and transmitting it to a smartphone. This sensor will also be able to help diagnose problems surrounding conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer in place of more invasive surgeries.
An ongoing collaboration, this project will involve a clinical trial that uses a system of sensors, mobile devices, and machine learning to provide real-time, around-the-clock symptom information to clinicians and researchers with the aim of monitoring the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
UroSense is a disposable sensor-enabled urine container attached to a catheter, which replaces manual pouring. It also measures and monitors flow rate, fill level, and temperature before sending that data instantly and wirelessly. This helps health professionals spot the signs of infection in their early stages, creating better treatment plans and prevention. The device also reports on conditions such as diabetes or prostate cancer and feeds this back to doctors and nurses to manage the conditions.
This pill dispensing device is designed for patients who may find it difficult to manage medication independently. It’s pre-filled with the required dosage for a specific day and provides notifications to patients when it is time to take or refill medicines. If a dosage is missed, the information can be tracked and fed back to the patient’s doctor. PMAPS is a “connected ecosystem”, it includes a monitored in-home dispensing device, pre-packaged medications, a clinician portal and a caregiver app.
With the market for IoT medical devices headed toward 1.9 billion, there are many possibilities in this space. The IoT world can provide medical professionals with cutting edge tools like wireless sensor technology, remote and continuous monitoring, and mobile connectivity. This field not only promotes the quick flow of information, it reduces clinical error and helps provide the best care possible for the patient.