By Alex Snitkovsky, CEO Comm-IT Software
The global COVID-19 vaccination campaign is in full swing: the expensive vaccines are being transported all across the globe under severely maintained conditions, with the constant fear of unexpected supply chain failures, since any slight change in temperature could impair their quality. To illustrate this point, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that 25% of vaccines lose their effectiveness due to a change from optimal conditions.
This is where IoT (Internet of Things) technology comes into play. Using smart sensors attached to the vaccine vials and linked to the Internet, we can monitor the exact location, inventory and conditions of vaccines along the entire transport chain, detect faults and optimize transport to desired destinations.
This vaccine monitoring technology, called the Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network, or eVIN for short, was developed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and is currently used only for limited vaccine delivery. Despite this, its adoption has led to an 80% reduction in vaccine inventory losses.
Vaccine monitoring is just one examples of many of the tremendous importance of the new field of IoMT – Internet of Medical Things. During the corona crisis it was discovered to be a significant tool in improving provision of medical service and prevention of the disease spreading.
With medical staff under unreasonable mental and physical stress, IoMT facilitates and enables them to treat patients and counsel them remotely, by reducing the time required to make an accurate medical diagnosis and by monitoring patients' health-related metrics in real time. This is done through a combination of wearable devices and sensors that stream information from the field to cloud applications, allowing you to share and collect information from anywhere at any time.
During this corona period, IoMT has also been used for monitoring both patient and disease outbreak pockets, for measuring temperatures in public places such as airports, for diagnosing patients using wearable devices or in smart hospital beds, and even for reducing crowds in public places using density monitoring sensors.
At Wuhan Hospital in China, robots, AI technology and IoT devices are integrated to measure patients' fever, heart rate and blood sugar level, among other things, using smart bracelets. The robots at the hospital both clean and disinfect areas and dispense food and medicine. They have even been documented dancing to entertain patients and staff in the wards.
The impressive advances in IoMT technologies, which are gaining momentum due to the plague, are contributing to the advancement of the IoT field as a whole, with innovations that are likely to remain with us even after the plague passes. This innovation helps accelerate development, smart communication, information security, data storage and processing capabilities and automation in technological systems used in the fields of education, manufacturing, supply and transportation chain, smart city and smart home technologies and more.
The impressive advances in IoMT technologies, which have gained great momentum due to the virus, are contributing to the advancement of the entire IoT field, with innovations that are likely to remain with us even after the plague passes. This trend will help accelerate development, smart communication, information security, data storage and processing capabilities, as well as automation in technological systems used in the fields of education, manufacturing, supply chain and transportation, smart city and smart home technologies, and much, much more.
In Israel, IoT and IoMT projects with great potential have recently been conducted, but in order to reach the market with a relevant product ahead of the competition, it is important that entrepreneurs recruit the most experienced partners, those who have a proven track record in carrying out such innovative, intricate and forward-thinking projects, for the main challenge lies in bridging knowledge gaps in the field.
One should also keep in mind that IoMT projects require multidisciplinary knowledge and a diverse team, as they include both software and hardware components. Such a project requires hardware and mechanics experts, Real Time embedded and cloud experts, FinOps people and of course software engineers, Big Data and artificial intelligence/machine learning experts, to begin with.
The ability to plan and manage a project of this magnitude is also of great importance, since it also entails the complex issues of standardization in the field. IoMT technology solutions are required to comply with the Medical Data Protection Regulations (HIPAA), US Regulations (FDA) and the European Privacy Protection Regulation (GDPR), to name a few. You will also be required to comply with the ISO-13845 international standard which relates to the management of quality systems in organizations engaged in the manufacture of medical devices.
It is important to note that familiarity with medical institutions and their technological and information security infrastructure is crucial to success in this field. IoMT products must integrate with existing technological solutions, from brand new to legacy solutions, in a variety of medical institutions, and not just in hospitals.
IoMT solutions must be developed in a Secure-by-Design (SBD) approach. That is, they must be fundamentally designed as secure products. For this purpose, penetration tests must be performed and a practical and infrastructural vulnerability assessment for solutions in development must be executed; Therefore, your development team needs to include an information security architect who can determine the policy under which the product will work. You need to make sure the software testing team is proficient in information security and ensure that all possible vulnerabilities in the product are tested. Following that, it is important to comply with all relevant information security standards and regulations, and to obtain appropriate approvals. Finally, it must be ensured that integration with other systems and applications in the organization does not permit any information to leak.
Solutions that will be utilized by medical staffs have to be adaptable to fit existing work routines and work procedures in the various departments, to allow seamless implementation in these institutions. Therefore, getting up close in the work processes with the information systems and information security managers are critical.
Many excellent ideas in IoMT have created a huge leap forward due to the demands that arose from the field during the Corona crisis, and we will probably reap their benefits long after the virus goes away. These solutions are revolutionizing the medical service on a daily basis and continually provide new levels of medical diagnosis, follow-up and treatment. That said, to succeed in IoMT development projects – and to remain competitive and relevant in the market – it is important that entrepreneurs enlist the knowledge and experience of partners who can take the idea end-to-end and make it a finished product that meets the high standards medical institutions require, and who can provide reliable, secure and smart service.