A study by Juniper Research suggests the number of IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) in smart hospitals will exceed seven million by 2026.
The leading research firm’s analysts expect 7.4 million IoMT devices to be deployed globally, with over 3,850 per smart hospital.
Adam Wears, Research Analyst at Juniper Research, said:
“The emergence of remote monitoring within healthcare presents an opportunity for network operators to place themselves within the digital healthcare value chain.Smart hospital technologies generate significant quantities of data, meaning that the edge computing function provided by network operators will be crucial to the successful rollout of these systems.”
To put the predicted growth in perspective, 3.2 million IoMT devices were deployed as of 2021. If the researchers’ forecast is accurate, it would represent 231 percent growth.
The US and China are expected to drive IoMT adoption, which is unsurprising given their large populations and thriving economies.
COVID-19 accelerated remote monitoring
The pandemic brought increased focus to the healthcare industry, especially where problems and bottlenecks were highlighted.
One problem faced by many global healthcare systems is a lack of beds. At the height of the pandemic, around two-thirds of hospital beds in the UK were occupied by COVID-19 patients. Potentially life-saving tests and treatments had to be pushed back to free up capacity, with several NHS chiefs believing it will take until 2026 to clear the backlog.
A successful booster rollout combined with immunity from widespread community spread and what appears to be a more infectious but less deadly variant – especially for vaccinated individuals – has kept hospitalisation rates in the UK low, despite the country’s current daily infections being at record highs (current 7-day average is 173,261).
In fact, only around 67 percent of UK patients with COVID-19 are being primarily treated for the virus—with around one-third of cases detected after a patient was admitted for an unrelated reason.
However, every COVID-19 patient – even if they’re not being primarily treated for the virus – needs to be isolated from others to prevent spread to healthcare workers and other patients. A number of NHS trusts in the UK have declared emergencies for this reason and staffing difficulties posed by a large number of workers having to isolate.
IoMT devices enable remote monitoring of less critical and infectious patients in the comfort of their own homes. This would help to ensure there are enough beds for critical patients and fewer healthcare workers are required at the hospital.
Juniper Research identified remote monitoring as key to delivering smart hospital services.
The researchers found that adoption significantly accelerated during the pandemic due to difficulties with delivering in-person healthcare. The accelerated pace is set to continue over the next five years “as patients become acclimatised to remote monitoring and benefit from proactively managing and treating health conditions.”