5 min reading
19 July 2022
19 July 2022
How to Avoid Downtime and Increase Hospitals’ Efficiency with IoT?
With the rise of IoT, the concept of automation is being explored by many hospitals. Want to use it too? Read on!
Connected devices in hospitals may bring a number of benefits. The use of the Internet of Things (IoT) can provide a competitive advantage to medical device manufacturers by improving patient outcomes and enabling better management. Emergency power supply systems can also benefit from IoT integration and data transmission in terms of better data analytics. The connected devices can also be used to collect valuable data and help create new business models. Other benefits include efficient and accurate analysis, advanced message queuing protocol, and increased patient satisfaction. In addition, IoT healthcare devices give healthcare providers an opportunity to share information and analyze health data with remote health monitoring systems, saving their time and improving the quality of patient care.
The role of sensors in IoT medical and healthcare applications is huge as they can positively influence:
- Patient data analytics;
- Smart healthcare service management;
- Optimal data delivery;
- Computation and data acquisition;
- Patient safety.
How is the Internet of Things Integrated into the Healthcare Industry?
The Internet of Things (IoT) technology has transformed the way healthcare is delivered in general. Medical professionals now have more access to patient-related data than ever before. This means that the ability to transmit patient data back and forth between healthcare professionals and patients has never been more convenient. Furthermore, considering connected devices now include cameras, sensors, and detectors, they can help monitor vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature, sending processed input data right to medical specialists. Other devices are inserted into the body to monitor glucose levels and help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Meanwhile, stationary medical instruments are used for X-rays, laboratory tests, and drug management. As you see, with the developing IoT trends in healthcare, there are more and more ways of managing integrated information management processes.
Ways to the Efficiency Increase in the Healthcare Industry
IoT implementation in healthcare is the easiest way to analyze sensed data, enhancing health service quality and efficiency of system performance. Numerous simultaneous connected nodes and healthcare IoT sensors can transmit huge data amounts over the hospital ecosystem, in a reliable and continuous manner. Being more precise in describing the ways, which can optimize healthcare management systems, we should outline the following ones:
- Creating smart hospital design;
- Establishing appropriate data collection technology;
- Ensuring the connectivity between devices;
- Creating a unified platform for data storage and exchange.
Creating Smart Hospital Design
With the introduction of new technologies, hospitals have started to explore the potential of the Internet of Things more and more. Sensor networks can monitor patients and alert physicians in the event of an emergency. But they cannot function in a downtime-prone environment because of latency and request failures. To solve this problem, smart hospitals need to carefully design their IoT network architecture and consider many factors. In addition, the design of a health system should observe the computing capacity of all layers and avoid idle machines. Typically, it is the five-layer smart hospital architecture but with an always-changing environment, it differs depending on the medical institution.
Sensing and Recognition Technologies
To develop a smart hospital, IoT technologies must be utilized to gather and share data from the various areas of a health institution. The technologies must have the following attributes: high battery life, reliability, ultra-low latency, security-trust-privacy, and EMI-EMC capability. Data collection and analytic methods should be simple and easy to set up. Smart hospitals should also be cost-efficient and power-efficient, using an appropriate data integration platform.
Speaking about layer 1 of hospital design, we should outline numerous data collection procedures and sensors to use for these purposes. Sensors are the main components of this layer. For effective remote monitoring, especially in healthcare, it is crucial to have trusted data collection technologies, which provide users with accurate and reliable data at all times. On a sensing layer already IoT has many potential benefits for healthcare systems. These include improving diagnosis, enabling personalized services, and reducing human resource demand. In fact, IoT is a promising technology for hospitals, and numerous researchers have contributed to the development of smart hospitals. In order to make this layer, IoT devices must be integrated into the architecture of smart hospitals.
Embedding sensors into patient care is also a way to extend the capabilities of life-supporting implants and support patients’ independence. Often, patients need to be monitored during the pre-hospital period, while at home or in long-term care, so remote data processing technologies will considerably simplify this process, especially with the adaptive access control model. IoT-based healthcare devices can process vital-sign data and alert medical personnel when patients’ parameters fall outside of normal levels. Smart hospitals will also allow patients to live more independent lives outside of the hospital.
In order to optimize network security and ensure reliable electrical power distribution in a smart hospital, you need to have a reliable system of gateways. The implementation of IoT in healthcare with properly chosen gateways can support a wide range of healthcare applications, significantly affecting network performance. The key features of an IoT-based smart gateway include flexibility, scalability, and reliability. This is why it is so important to integrate gateways only from trustworthy providers, which guarantee you protection of personal data and the positive future of IoT in healthcare. IoT-based Gateway allows the hospital to collect vital signs data from sensors and other IoT devices at multiple locations and exchange it with other parties, which can be beneficial for the system development process, remote services, layer factors analysis, and even energy efficiency.
The design and implementation of an IoT-based gateway system may involve several layers as well since it is not only a data collection process to be performed but also a transfer, distribution, and timely response. The data acquisition layer should collect data continuously and securely. The cost, privacy, and security of data must be considered at all times whether the user needs to process data locally or over large distances. The other layer implies that data should be recorded periodically and transmitted using networking technologies. In addition, data must be adapted in the sensing layer before being transferred to the other layers. So, the network protocols and connection technologies used must be chosen in accordance with reliability, cost, and power consumption.
AI-Based Healthcare Services
AI-based technologies can potentially improve patient safety, productivity, and quality. These solutions include a digital platform with easy access to microservices and APIs that will enable hospitals to quickly and easily develop and deploy AI-based healthcare apps. As smart hospitals evolve, they can efficiently utilize optimization factors that will be useful for intra and inter-organizational services and improve the overall efficiency of hospital care.
The future of AI-based healthcare is not far off. According to Accenture’s 2021 report, 49% of influential healthcare actors believe that Artificial Intelligence will take a major part in healthcare in the closest future (Cullen, 2021). AI-based healthcare services can automate administrative tasks like writing chart notes, ordering lab tests, and sorting collected and analyzed data.
These new technologies can help smart hospitals identify patients with certain illnesses, like COVID-19. Face recognition technology, which relies on cameras placed at the entrances, can help identify infected individuals by their behavior and organize their waiting times in such a way that they will not infect other people. Smart robots can also deliver food and medicines to patients, which reduces the risk of physician exposure to potentially infectious people. And in the future, hospitals will be able to use this technology to identify high-risk patients and make informed decisions about their care.
Establishing Proper Data Collection Devices
Health-relevant data is collected in many ways, including passive and active data collection. The availability of health-relevant data is unprecedented. Mobile devices, asset trackers, and wearables are all creating large amounts of data that can be used to make better health decisions. Health-relevant data can be analyzed by algorithms, providing insights that were previously unavailable. This information can even be used to predict the health outcomes of patients and potentially help cure chronic illnesses. Ultimately, health-relevant data from IoT devices will help improve patient experience and management.
Speaking about the exact devices needed for data collection, first of all, we need to outline sensors and monitoring programs. Sensors can monitor a lot of parameters since now there is a wide range of sensor options, plus many sensors can monitor several parameters at once. For example, TEKTELIC has eDOCTOR, which is a wearable device that can monitor almost all vital signs. eDOCTOR monitors respiration rate, body temperature, heart rate, body position, chest expansion, cough, and sneezing. This sensor is a perfect choice for people with respiratory problems, athletes, seniors, or children with health issues. One more good point of this device is the option of pushing the panic button in case of emergency, so healthcare professional or any other responsible person could react without delays.
Hospital efficiency can also be increased with an asset-tracking sensor. SPARROW is a good choice for asset tracking monitoring in a medical institution because it integrates with all the LoRaWAN Networks and has optional temperature and humidity sensor, which can be important and useful for medical facilities, where a lot of equipment is sensitive to humidity and temperature changes. With SPARROW hospitals will have the beam division multiple access to their facilities’ storage reports at all times. Besides, it cannot be put into one group with resource-constrained devices since it is not constrained to a single functionality and can be even expanded with additional features.
Data collection programs, in turn, can collect and analyze data using a particular algorithm embedded. The drawback of using such programs is the necessity to actually install them on every device containing data, which can be extensively time-consuming and inefficient. Besides, many health programs have a variety of data collection methods, which may not be suitable for every situation. Some programs have limited success in collecting data, and stratified analysis of HEDIS data may be required to identify disparities in quality of care and outcomes.
One more important point to note is that for successful use of data collection programs, entities must assess current data collection practices and clearly define the changes they intend to make. They must also train staff to collect data using valid methods since these methods facilitate distributed environments if properly approached. Implementation of staff training programs is critical to ensuring success. Standardization of data collection methods can also simplify these training processes.
Ensuring the Connectivity between Devices
Smart hospitals must manage patient flows, space, and staff efficiently. They must also monitor medical data obtained in real-time to improve patient satisfaction and care experience. This is where a wireless sensor network comes into play. By connecting sensors to existing data networks, smart hospitals can provide real-time alerts and information to improve patient care. By implementing smart sensors, hospitals can better manage remote services components, including cloud and internet connection, local and remote users’ setups, and system development processes.
In hospitals, an IoT network is a must to ensure the uptime of major medical equipment. Fortunately, network-providing devices are becoming more affordable, which helps hospitals avoid costly downtime without much spending on it. One of the most important issues of sensor technologies is secure messaging system performance and reliable data-related processes. This layer also defines how the same or heterogeneous networks analyze heterogeneous data. Digital data service is determined by the sensing network and the data are then transmitted to the smart hospital’s data integration platforms. Then, it is shared between the systems and different stakeholders. The network servers must also be designed to facilitate communication among the components so you have to ensure a reliable electric power supply.
Using LoRaWAN networks and IoT in the healthcare industry will be a great option for the integration of data analytic methods and improvement of patient care. Using the LoRaWAN network will enhance the coverage, effectiveness, and throughput of the healthcare system and will decrease its energy costs.
Creating a Unified Platform for data Storage and Exchange
Creating a unified platform for data exchange in healthcare is an important step toward increasing efficiency in the healthcare industry. This type of wireless network systems makes it easy for specialists to communicate with referring physicians, and the data provenance module helps ensure that patient data remains confidential. Improved interoperability, as a result, will lead to reduced healthcare costs. By sharing information more efficiently, healthcare providers can better serve patients and in this regard, the benefits of a unified platform for data exchange in healthcare are many.
A unified platform pulls data from various sources to create a holistic patient record. Providers can use specific applications to identify gaps in care, coding, due measures, and screenings. Organization leaders can also view visualization dashboards to analyze data trends and patterns throughout the network. Visualization includes data acquisition, transfer, and distribution. This data is useful for identifying areas for improvement and enables organizations to focus their resources accordingly. A unified platform for data exchange in healthcare can also improve overall patient safety.
TEKTELIC aims to bring together disparate data types into a single platform. It is a suite of cloud services that helps users search across a variety of data types, including structured and unstructured data. TEKTELIC healthcare platform also uses fast healthcare interoperability resource standards to enable secure data transfer. Our services are designed to help healthcare organizations gain a competitive edge by integrating with existing systems.
Using the TEKTELIC APIs, healthcare organizations can integrate and manage large amounts of patient health information (PHI). The APIs can integrate healthcare data imported from various sources. The resulting longitudinal patient record is based on real-time data and industry-standard health data standards. It can be populated with structured inputs such as health-related services, medical equipment, genomic databases, and more.
What are the Major IoT Challenges in Healthcare?
Despite the many benefits of IoT sensors for smart hospitals, these devices have their drawbacks and issues. As the Internet of Things evolves, its applications will only increase since the edge computing model enables hospitals to have their processes more optimized and facilitated. The latest technology enables connected devices to communicate with one another easily, so more and more medical specialist buy these smart appliances. However, there are some security issues when it comes to sensor technologies. The primary concerns include security and privacy, as patient data may be stored in a variety of environments. A security gap may result in data compromise and personal information going public. At the same time, if sensors have reliable encryption embedded, then they will not face security problem at all. By leveraging cellular networks and faster processors, the IoT can provide better security and better patient care, you just need to choose a provider with all the necessary security certifications and protocols.
What Else Does TEKTELIC have for Hospitals?
TEKTELIC Communications has switched its focus to healthcare considerably. in addition to the abovementioned sensors, we have eBEAT, a wearable sensor for body temperature and heart rate monitoring. It has a battery life of up to 4 months and can easily be worn under clothes, attaching to an arm with a washable strap. It is fully integrated with a desktop application, so you can check the indications at all times. The interface allows medical staff to log in and control the behavior of data processing. For example, they can define how often to save data, and send notifications when a patient scores a certain threshold. In addition, they can define the settings for the devices and the health care systems they monitor. The information collected can be used to improve patient care by identifying the causes of adverse health conditions.
One more device, necessary to mention is KONA Micro IoT Gateway. The gateway consists of an embedded configuration service that provides users with an easy way to configure how the data is processed. This gateway is an easy and cheap solution for indoor environments. It is especially good for hospital and other critical infrastructure environments since KONA Micro IoT Gateway has ‘Always On’ connectivity, 4 hours of battery backup, and an integrated 3G/4G modem. Besides, you can simply manage it with the KonaFT OAM tool.
A growing interest in IoT-based smart hospital architecture has led to its development. A smart hospital design should allow for seamless data sharing between all the building’s systems that’s why it is a good idea to choose one main IoT products provider to seamless integration and interconnection of the devices. Technology innovation requires coordination across all project phases, and a dedicated team member will be required to monitor and assess the implementation of smart hospital technologies at least at the beginning. But if the technology is integrated properly, with TEKTELIC devices there will not be any further issues and the entire process will be smooth and successful.
Are there any Other Reasons for IoT in Healthcare?
We already gave you a bunch of reasons why IoT is a must for the medical sphere but there are still some more. Technological advancements have had a profound impact on our lives, and healthcare is no different. By designing flexible and intelligent buildings, you will reduce the need for constant upgrades and defer obsolescence. Considering energy efficiency, environmental impacts, and carbon footprint, creating smart health facilities is the only choice to keep the cost low and processes environmentally positive.
To avoid obsolescence, smart hospitals must integrate advanced information systems. This information management system contains geometric and non-geometric information about assets. It is a key element of Industry 4.0. The evolved information system will provide more insights and improve management operations. Interconnected clinical information systems, network medical devices, remote care systems, data repositories, and mobile client devices will reduce the time it takes to update assets.
IoT devices can make hospitals much more efficient and cost-effective. A hospital’s data can be used to improve power reliability. By using this information, hospitals can improve their power reliability and reduce their energy-related operational expenses. The system can even prevent downtime by providing real-time alerts of any anomalies. Lastly, the system can prevent the occurrence of power outages by improving patient safety. All these features will help hospitals remain efficient and profitable.
Smart hospitals can also be more accessible and easy to navigate. In addition to offering more functionality for patients, they may be less demanding on clinical staff. It will allow patients to control certain aspects of their rooms on their own. The digital transformation of healthcare will lead to fewer clerical workers and improved patient care and satisfaction as a result. So, smart devices will surely help hospitals reduce their operating costs and improve patient care.
TEKTELIC, in turn, will be happy to help you make your medical facility more effective and optimized. That’s why if you really want to bring your medical institution to a new level of operation and experience, please contact our support team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s make healthcare smart together!
- Cullen, S. (2021). Will health systems lead the way or lose the edge?. Retrieved 6 June 2022, from https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/health/health-system-future