The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): Deep technology in patient monitoring, electronic disease surveillance and beyond

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The pharma industry, like all others, can’t escape the impact of disruptive technologies. With the increasing popularity of connecting daily operations to the cloud, IoT is a powerful tool to improve operational efficiency. One way it can do this is to provide real time patient monitoring data. With the help of data analytics, huge amounts of data can be processed within a very short period of time to allow timely patient treatment.

Joining us at Phar-East 2018 is Professor Marimuthu Palani from University of Melbourne, Australia. Marimuthu Palaniswami is a Fellow of IEEE and a distinguished lecturer of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society. He has served in various international boards and advisory committees including as a panel member for National Science Foundation (NSF). He has published more than 500 refereed journal and conference papers, including 3 books, 10 edited volumes.

Ahead of him joining us, we sat down with him for a quick preview of his talk at Phar-East 2018, Singapore.


Professor Marimuthu Palaniswami, Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia

Q: Please use 100 words to summarise your proudest achievement since our last Biopharma Asia conference

Palani: Smart wearable devices, in several hundred millions,  are increasingly used in wellness area.  However, their  adoption in health sector  is limited due to lack of robustness and effective feature extraction techniques.  We have developed several new cloud based  data analytics algorithms together with suitable smart mobile Apps.  These smart wearable devices and systems  can  monitor in real time  stroke, epilepsy,  and rehab patients.  They are in multicenter trials in five hospitals. The accuracy of diagnosis and continuous reporting  of patient management are highly exciting.  The early adoption of these devices will help save huge health care costs and improve patient health outcomes reducing mortality and  fast rehabilitation to normal life.


Q: What remains as the greatest challenge in using IoT for patient monitoring?

Palani: Wearable devices are designed for continuous monitoring. However, events of critical clinical interest are often bursty and short duration: seizure event ≈ 10 seconds; paroxysmal atrial fibrillation event ≈ a few seconds; obstructive sleep apnoea event ≈ 10 seconds; measure of NIH stroke scale for motor activity ≈ 10 seconds, etc. Therefore, quick diagnostics, critical to early intervention and adoption in primary care, requires efficient short-term signal analysis and (nonlinear) feature extraction. At the moment,  reliability, consistency  and accuracy are challenges in adoption.

Another challenge is Monitoring by devices still require validation against clinical assessment


Q: How would you like to  convince pharma and biotech stakeholders to transform their operations using digital technology?

Palani: The old view is that a disease can be tackled by treating a cohort of patients with the same treatment and pray for the best. We know that this works but only partly as each patient behaves differently. We need more precision medicine in that each patient’s response to treatment need to be monitored continuously and intensely to allow for expedited adjustment of treatment. We believe that wearable devices offer a way forwards.

Monitoring of stroke patients is labour intensive and subject to high inter-rater disagreement. For example, you can’t put a nurse next a patient and ask for assessment every minute. The cost would be prohibitive. Another scenario would be nurse 1 or doctor 1 will give a different assessment compared with nurse 2 or doctor 2 even in the same time point, leading discrepancy in disease identification and diagnostic.

IoT is helping to overcome these challenges to provide better patient treatment. Intensive monitoring by wearable devices has the potential to provide solutions to the above 2 problems.

Pharma has a keen interest in knowing the efficacy of their product (better product equals better sales). By investing in wearable devices will allow for better and more reliable monitoring of patient progress after treatment by their product. This is the old adage: you can’t treat what you can’t accurately measure.

Solution providers, especially systems providers view this from a slightly different angle but also from patient benefits perspective: they need to know if their health care solution improves patient outcome.  The new technology can assure these outcomes.


Q: Who would you like to meet at Phar-East?

Palani: Hospitals, Biopharma industry players, and benture capitalists


Palani is one of 120+ speakers participating at Phar-East 2018. Visit our website for more information:

About Phar-East 2018
From humble beginnings as BioMedical Asia in 2008, BioPharma Asia has attracted close to 20,000 attendees over the last 10 years. Established as a true one-stop shop for all things biopharma, our 2018 program is rebranded into Phar East 2018 to explore innovation in clinical trials, manufacturing, supply chain, market access, partnering, pricing, and more without restricting itself on the type and nature of therapeutic products. Visit our website for more information:

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