Healthcare News & Insights

How to get the most out of IoT in your hospital

Over the next decade, hospitals will continue increasing their adoption of IoT devices, and see more coming through the doors. It’ll be crucial for IT leaders to identify technology solutions that enable scalable technology infrastructure, risk mitigation and management, and effective ways to draw insights from collected data. In this guest post, Soumya Das, CMO of a provider of data analytics and location-based solutions and services, will explain how indoor positioning analytics can make a meaningful impact.

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Hospitals look drastically different than they did 20 years ago. Instead of relying on paper work and fax machines, healthcare systems now depend on connected devices and sensors to capture, translate and store critical information. IoT has become pervasive. In fact, nearly 60% of healthcare organizations have now introduced some sort of IoT device or connected system into their facilities.

With nearly everyone carrying a mobile device and the number of internet-connected “things” skyrocketing – the security threats surrounding wireless devices have become a top concern. In addition to managing risk, healthcare organizations are also trying to capture, and intelligently analyze, the large amount of data from connected devices.

Over the next decade, hospitals and other healthcare organizations will continue increasing their adoption of IoT devices, and see more coming through the doors. It will be crucial for IT leaders to identify technology solutions that enable scalable technology infrastructure, risk mitigation and management, and effective ways to draw insights from collected data in order to help inform critical business decisions.

Indoor positioning technology is one example of a technology application that has the power to transform healthcare operations and help the industry harness the potential of big data and real-time analytics. Through its capabilities to detect, monitor and provide rich analytics for every cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth-enabled device and/or asset, healthcare organizations can enhance efficiency, ameliorate overall workflow, and even isolate and protect against potential security threats.

Increased security measures

Patients and their family members regularly bring personal devices such as smartphones and tablets in and out of hospital buildings. These devices often go unmonitored as most hospitals don’t have adequate resources or built in solutions to keep a running inventory. This is problematic as threat actors targeting healthcare systems may use their IoT devices as a means to gain access to a hospital’s network with the intention of stealing confidential data.

Instilling proper security systems in a healthcare setting is crucial in order to protect patient medical records and patient safety. If an unauthorized device – including any cellular or Wi-Fi device –  successfully gains access to a hospital’s system or database, the consequences could be severe. Medical records have grown in value, and are worth just as much or even more than financial records on the dark web.

In addition to medical records, patients’ lives are also at stake. A compromised network could lead to a complete overtake of a hospital’s computer systems that track patient medical records, and monitor and manage mediation, surgical procedure recommendations, blood work requests and more, putting patient safety at great risk.

Indoor positioning technology has the ability to passively and anonymously monitor all on premise devices and differentiate between authorized and unauthorized devices – alerting hospital IT staff in real-time if a rogue device is detected. As an extra layer, healthcare IT systems should install security software that continuously monitors their network and has automated response capabilities so that if an attack does occur, it can be quickly mitigated to prevent further network infiltration.

Through proper implementation of indoor positioning analytics technology and location-based tools, hospitals can integrate big data with other IoT ecosystems to improve security measures and increase optimization.

Enhanced efficiency and workflow

Hospitals often experience crowding in emergency departments, waiting rooms and even hallways outside busy units. These “traffic jams” can make it difficult for hospital staff to navigate through the building, and can create obstacles when moving patients. A crowd may be in reaction to a dramatic event or someone causing a commotion. It’s crucial for hospital staff to identify these clusters in order to more effectively navigate the space or mitigate whatever issue is drawing people’s attention.

Indoor positioning monitors real-time traffic of hospital executive, staff and visitor IoT devices. By leveraging the data collected through device monitoring, hospital staff track traffic patterns and can ultimately improve efficiency and workflow. IT staff can locate essential personnel based on devices they’re carrying, as well as any equipment fitted with designated RF tags or IDs to save precious time and assist with keeping track of inventory. Additionally, when clusters occur, they are promptly identified and can take the necessary steps to remedy the situation. For instance, if significantly more devices are found in the emergency room compared to other areas of the hospital, staff can easily screen for unusual activity and dispatch employees accordingly.

After a significant amount of time monitoring visitor and staff patterns, conclusions about foot traffic can be drawn. If IT staff are noticing that visitors regularly congregate near a hallway where patients pass through frequently, the hospital can proactively send personnel to divert crowds and mitigate any issue or delay transporting the patients.

Indoor Positioning Analytics (IPA) have the potential to make a meaningful impact in modern healthcare settings, allowing facilities to better track assets and personnel, improve workflow and deliver better safety and security while cutting costs and bolstering the bottom line.

Soumya Das is CMO of Inpixon, a provider of data analytics and location-based solutions and services.

 

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