Digital technology has touched arguably every aspect of our lives including healthcare services. It has the capability to enhance the reach of medical services to disadvantaged sections of people in far-flung locations at a reduced cost. The one technology that can make it all happen is the Internet of Things (IoT) wherein data is shared among devices with built-in sensors.
IoT has made its presence felt in areas such as driverless cars, smart homes, and wearables, among others. In fact, it has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare sector through its variant – the Internet of Medical Things or IoMT. Connected medical devices a la IoMT can help in diagnosis, reporting, inventory management, communication, and better patient monitoring, among others provided the devices or the software system within them are subjected to rigorous medical device testing.
What is IoMT and how can it help?
Known as the Internet of Medical Things, IoMT is a connected ecosystem constituting of sensor-based tools, software applications, medical devices, IT systems, and services. The connected medical devices of the ecosystem can generate, collate, analyze, and transmit health related data or images to the networks of healthcare providers. The IoMT helps to streamline the workflow at any medical facility leading to better patient care, both remotely and in-house. Besides, it can transform the entire healthcare sector by monitoring, informing, and notifying caregivers and healthcare providers with data to diagnose health issues. The rising number of connected medical devices to the tune of 3.7 million is a testimony to its growing usage. As per Allied Market Research, the market for IoMT is expected to touch $136.8 billion globally by 2021.
Since medical devices have a direct impact on patient’s health, they must function to their optimum and as per the desired objectives. Further, they should be protected from the rising incidences of cyber threats and malfunction issues. No wonder the global cybersecurity market for healthcare is likely to cross $27 billion by 2025. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen increased usage of IoMT devices for remote patient diagnosis. However, since they are connected to the cellular networks or WiFi at patients’ homes, the inherent vulnerabilities in the software systems within them make them prone to hacking. This makes the critical role of medical device testing apparent.
Why is healthcare software testing so important?
The growing usage of IoMT gives doctors the wherewithal to diagnose and treat patients who are located remotely. Besides, with time, healthcare facilities like hospitals will depend a lot on such devices for patient monitoring and care management, inventory management, and decision making. Since so much is going to be at stake, the role of medical devices testing specialists cannot be ignored. By conducting a host of testing exercises, they can leverage benefits as mentioned below:
Proactive medical care: By 2025, the global elderly population is expected to reach 1.2 billion thanks to the rising life expectancy. And since the elderly population is more vulnerable to health issues, the associated costs will increase as well. This is where IoMT can reach out to the elderly and address their health woes by tracking vital parameters like blood pressure, heart rate, glucose level, sleeping levels, and others. Also, the elderly often forget to take prescribed medicines on time, a serious issue that can be remedied by the use of IoMT devices. These devices can remind such patients and document the time of taking medicines. Further, portable diagnostic devices with built-in sensors can ensure the conduct of blood and urine tests for the elderly followed by analyzing (and reporting) the findings of such tests. Thus, the IoMT devices can gather vital patients’ data and transmit them to doctors to make quick diagnosis and offer better hands-on treatment. Finally, the success of such proactive medical care is underpinned on the working of healthcare testing services.
Telemedicine: With better connectivity, the IoMT devices can seamlessly blend with telemedicine to offer better diagnosis and treatment to patients living in remote areas. Devices connected to the patients can transmit vital data to the doctors operating on a telemedicine platform and enable the latter to prescribe treatment. However, it is only through medical device functional testing that telemedicine as a delivery platform can function optimally.
IoMT devices can collect, analyze, and report vital patients data in real-time and allow stakeholders like doctors, paramedics, and laboratory assistants to derive data-driven insights from healthcare analytics. This can ultimately speed up decision-making and help patients access quality care irrespective of their place of stay. And to ensure every sinew of this IoMT ecosystem performs to its desired objectives, performance testing on medical devices should become the norm.