Industry Insights

How IoT Will Enable Smart, Connected Hospitals

How will IoT applications in healthcare transform hospital operations and improve efficiency?

April 23, 2018

The future of healthcare has never looked brighter. With smart devices becoming a prevalent part of our society, it doesn’t come as a shock that the healthcare industry will also reap the benefits of such technology. But how much better can hospitals really get?

While hospitals tend to run a tight ship, a smart hospital could improve upon this, decreasing time spent on tracking down and relocating medical devices and increasing time spent on improving patient satisfaction. Imagine a hospital where everything and everyone could be tracked down seamlessly at the click of a button - the utopia of hospitals if you will. This article will observe a few ways which healthcare will change for the better with the help of IoT.

Safety at Its Finest

According to the National Center For Missing & Exploited Children, in the past 53 years, almost 43% of infant abductions took place in a hospital or healthcare setting. This is a significant amount considering how safe hospitals intend to be. With the help of blockchain technology, healthcare professionals will be able to track pediatric beds with a detailed location history which will increase security and reliability. Moreover, with the help of geofence technology, they will also be able to assign beds to specific locations within the hospital to ensure that no beds exit their designated location without approval.

Other devices worth tracking down include adult wheelchairs, gurneys, ventilators, and mobile workstations. Take mobile workstations for example, with the rise of remote treatment and virtual patient portals, it’s more important than ever for doctors and nurses to have immediate access to these devices as it allows them to access patient information. Even a small delay in access to this information can cause fatalities, and create a domino effect of problems across the hospital.

Furthermore, most nurses and practitioners go through the trouble of counting and locating the medical equipment in their unit at the start of their shift since things get moved around throughout the day. With access to a dashboard that allows them to view the inventory (here's an example) on each floor and department, healthcare professionals can be efficient in how they care for patients.  

Additionally, the average cost of these devices varies from $1,495 to $177,000. Based on the maximum price point, this makes video conferencing systems the third most expensive priority medical device on wheels. Such a hefty price tag should prove even more of an incentive for hospitals to integrate IoT into their equipment, wouldn’t you say?

Data, Data, Data, RESULTS!

In a 2015 study done by Rand Corporation, Blanchard and Rudin found that a similar hospital operation software used by a non-profit health system in Florida has helped increase efficiency and overall performance. The software’s use of telemetric technology allows professionals to analyze real-time data in order to identify risks and mistakes, and hold practitioners accountable.

The study also found that within two years of integrating this software into their practice, the hospitals saw a 27% increase in admissions, a 348% increase in internal campus transfers, and a decrease in bed assignment and wait time by 45 minutes. Ok, so it worked well for one healthcare system. So what?

IoT increases efficiency in hospitals

Source: Blanchard and Rudin, 2015

Well, the great thing about these findings is that if more hospitals begin to incorporate teletracking softwares, we could possibly see a giant shift in dynamic for the scientific community. At the bare minimum, we will see hospitals operating more smoothly, but if you adjust your lens on a greater scope you will see that more data could open new doors for discoveries. Imagine how many more new medical cases would be seen if every hospital in the nation saw an increase in admissions and a faster patient discharge rate.

To put it simply: [teletracking softwares]*[all hospitals] = more efficient hospitals = higher patient flow through rate = more admissions = more seen cases = more research that has to be done = a new revolution for the science community!

Phew...What an equation.

The Journey to Hospital Utopia

In conclusion, although we are on the verge of achieving the next science boom, there’s still a lot of progress that needs to be made when it comes to the cybersecurity of medical devices. In order to fully enjoy the benefits that come with hospital device tracking, we must first ensure that data security protocols are set in place to reduce vulnerability to security breaches.

With an exponential rate of technological improvements, however, we are expected to see more widespread adoption of this technology by the year 2020.

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