By Tim Mitchell, healthcare vertical sales manager, Advantech.
From a technology standpoint, we are amid a transformative era within the healthcare industry. In a hospital setting, where efficiency and accuracy are often life-or-death matters, the increased availability of IoT devices is revolutionizing the healthcare space. In any given hospital, there are countless supplies, tools and devices, each of which are extremely expensive. IoT is enabling a better way to track these assets, helping hospitals to operate in a more timely and efficient manner
Additionally, IoT is a driving force behind how patients now interact with technology. Whether it’s follow-up care instructions via a text message, portal sites or email appointment reminders, the idea is to engage patients electronically and remotely. This helps patients, particularly those with chronic conditions, to better control, monitor and manage their health, resulting in a higher quality of care and reduced healthcare costs for all parties.
IoT is allowing the healthcare industry to streamline processes, boosting efficiency and reducing costs, which is why we will continue to see the rapid adoption of these types of devices in the hospital setting.
Here are four ways IoT is currently revolutionizing the healthcare industry:
Healthcare “wayfinding” is a major problem for large medical facilities and hospitals, as most patients are already anxious about having to see a doctor –and this multiplies with the added stress of having to navigate a large, unknown campus. Updating signage, while proven to be effective, has become outdated with the rise of IoT. Digital wayfinding solutions, like blue-dot navigation apps, touchscreen kiosks and tablets that are distributed to patients upon arrival, are sweeping through hospitals across the nation and help reduce new patient anxiety, no matter their age or socioeconomic status.
- Patient experience and engagement
Whether it’s a knee surgery or congestive heart failure, patients are now able to take home ‘suitcase kits’ to help doctors monitor their conditions and recovery remotely. Depending on the patient, these kits may include a tablet or different wearable devices that will monitor the patient’s vitals in real-time, like blood pressure, temperature, etc. The patient can also log and report certain conditions or symptoms that they may develop post-surgery, allowing a doctor to provide a diagnosis or recommendation virtually. Post-care has always been an issue in the healthcare industry. The idea is to improve post-care patient engagement and experience via IoT devices to prevent a readmission, which is extremely costly to both the patient and hospital.
- RTLS technology
The simple task of trying to track down a nurse or doctor, or locate a specific piece of medical equipment, can cost hospitals hours of lost productivity. IoT devices that utilize Real-Time Location System (RTLS) technology allow the location of specific items or people to be easily and precisely tracked. This helps medical facilities and hospitals to have one unified system for managing inventory, assets and even personnel, resulting in more productivity and budget savings.
- Predictive maintenance
Within a single operating room, there can be 25 different pieces of expensive equipment, all of which need timely maintenance to avoid breakdowns and operating issues. In the “old days,” someone had to manually update asset tags of who/when a specific piece of equipment last had a maintenance check. Artificial intelligence is now being implemented in operating rooms to help with predictive maintenance. By automating this process through AI, a hospital no longer needs to worry about having to shut down an operating room due to an unexpected maintenance issue.
One of the main issues with IoT implementation is that it’s costly. That being said, it’s common knowledge that nothing ever gets done in the healthcare space without there being a big return. The healthcare industry knows that the benefits and potential savings outweigh any initial costs as IoT is improving patient care, while also reducing expenses to both patients and providers.