Healthcare News & Insights

3 ways IoT with LTE connectivity is changing healthcare’s future

507271659 (2)Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology has allowed hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers to become more efficient, responsive and accessible. It’s also helped personalize medical care, which can do wonders to improve patient satisfaction and preventive medicine. In this guest post, Alex Brisbourne, CEO of a managed wireless network services provider of Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, details three ways hospitals can us LTE to enhance their organizations. 

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The healthcare industry has been notoriously slow in adopting new technologies – and for good reason. Many technologies don’t always address an actual concern; if tech isn’t solving a problem or modifying a behavior, the need just isn’t there.

LTE technologies, however, can help healthcare organizations adjust the way they facilitate interactions between patients and doctors, and enhance care, by:

1. Collecting & distributing info with LTE-enabled kiosks

Kiosks are nothing new to the healthcare industry – at least as far as diagnostics go. Grocery stores and pharmacies have long been furnishing blood pressure stations for their customers. But wireless connectivity has expanded the possibilities for such devices.

Many hospitals and clinics are now using waiting room kiosks to not only provide convenience for patients, but also to free up their resources. Patients can now do everything from check in and set up appointments, to complete forms and review medical information. There’s even the possibility to scan a driver’s license or insurance card and pay an account balance.

The healthcare industry as a whole has been moving toward electronic health records as a way of streamlining and centralizing patient information. But with wireless connectivity, you can access this information from anywhere at any time – and instantaneously. This means providers can devote more time to providing actual care, while patients avoid having to answer the same questions over and over again if they must meet with more than one practitioner.

2. Conducting exams using telemedicine

But collecting patient information isn’t the only potential for medical kiosks. Some offer the functionality to connect a patient with a physician in real time. Providers can conduct “virtual” exams with both an on-site healthcare professional and a remote physician to determine whether the individual should seek further medical attention.

Not everyone has direct access to specialists, especially in more remote, rural communities. The improvements in wireless connectivity allow general physicians in small towns to consult with virtually any specialist via videoconference. The healthcare team can discuss treatment options in real time, which can be the difference between life and death.

And with an increasing number of facilities adopting electronic health records systems, these specialists also have access to medical records, X-rays and other information to make more decisions faster.

Taking video conferencing a step further are the fourth-generation, LTE-enabled tablets that allow patients and doctors to hold virtual doctor appointments via touch screen and webcam. Patients in more rural areas, or senior citizens who can no longer travel long distances, receive the same level of treatment as those in more metropolitan areas.

3. Sending & receiving data everywhere

No one needs to tell you that mobile devices are ready-made for patient-provider communication, but the depth at which wireless connectivity can improve this area of health care is expansive. In-vehicle devices, for example, allow EMTs to not only send triage info to emergency rooms (ER), but also connect patients to the facilities before they arrive. ER staff can remotely monitor vital signs, assess video images, and review patient histories to diagnose medical conditions and provide instructions for mobile treatment.

In addition to emergency medical care, advances in connectivity have improved the care for homebound patients. Mobile caretakers can securely access patient medical records and reference materials – not to mention specialists via videoconference – to provide advanced medical care remotely.

Going hand-in-hand with mobile health care is remote diagnosis. Practitioners can get relevant information through in-vehicle devices, wearables or other technology, to improve the efficiency of diagnosing a medical condition and managing patient health. Also, there’s the opportunity to send e-prescriptions directly to mobile devices or monitor patient accordance to medical recommendations, as might be the case for a prescribed exercise regimen.

Both patients and healthcare providers benefit from LTE. At a minimum, the connectivity makes patient information readily available to all the necessary people, no matter where they might practice medicine. This can improve workflow efficiencies, lower costs associated with medical care, make that care more accessible to more people and improve overall outcomes.

Alex Brisbourne is the CEO of KORE, a managed wireless network services provider specializing in IoT and M2M communications. He sits on the board of a number of technology companies and is chairman of the IMC.

 

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