Hospitals are uniquely positioned to take advantage of new developments brought on by the Internet of Things (IoT). As medical devices become more sophisticated, with the ability to transmit information to each other, the IoT will become an important aspect of delivering high-quality patient care.
In fact, according to a report from consulting firm Grand View Research (as cited in an article from Business Insider), nearly $410 billion will be spent on IoT software, devices and services in the healthcare segment by 2022.
This is due to a variety of reasons, according to the Business Insider piece. Because health care is more focused on patient outcomes, clinicians need concrete data about patients’ health so they can make better decisions to improve treatment.
People are also living longer around the world, which impacts the demand for health services in general. And many of them have multiple chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, so they require additional monitoring to keep their health in check.
Currently, per the Grand View Research report, most IoT healthcare devices are wearables that track vital signs like blood pressure and insulin levels. But as time goes on, more emphasis will be placed on creating devices such as implanted pacemakers and sensors that can communicate data to other equipment.
To get the most out of these devices, related software and services for data analytics, remote device management, security and maintenance will also become more common in hospitals.
Practical uses for IoT tech
Right now, several hospitals are already taking advantage of various forms of IoT technology – such as Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia. The health system is using the IoT to create connected hospital rooms where patients have more control over their surroundings.
Other facilities are using the IoT to improve various areas of the patient experience. According to a second article from Business Insider, one New York hospital partnered with GE to install special sensors on hospital beds. The sensors were designed to indicate whether a bed was free or occupied by a patient.
Knowing this information improved patient flow, and it helped reduce wait times in the emergency department by up to four hours in some cases.
IoT technology can also be applied to equipment maintenance in hospitals. Philips Healthcare, another commercial vendor, recently released its own IoT solution, e-Alert. It’s designed to monitor how well machines and equipment are working so hospitals won’t face any issues with patient treatment due to outages.
Here’s how it works: When the e-Alert solution senses that something’s not working properly in a machine, it messages an engineer via text. That way, repairs can be completed before the machine fails entirely. Not only is this system more cost-effective, it also keeps equipment running at peak efficiency.
As time passes, similar IoT technology will become essential for many hospitals and their daily operations. That means it’s critical that your facility’s internal networks can meet the demands required for the IoT so staff can continue to provide the best care possible to patients.