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Asset Tracking Significant to IoMT Availability, Security

Asset tracking helps organizations locate IoMT devices quickly and ensure only secure devices are accessing the network.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- As healthcare organizations continue to adopt Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices, their many uses become more apparent. Connecting medical devices to the network not only allows them to transmit clinical data, but it also gives organizations the benefit of asset tracking.

A recent report released by Mobile Experts predicted that the asset tracking IoT device market is expected to triple by 2022 across all major verticals, including healthcare.

"Overall, we expect annual shipments of Asset Tracking IoT devices to grow from 22 million to 70 million by 2022," Principal Analyst Joe Madden said in a statement. "What's more, about half of these devices will send data through a Cloud-based service provider, driving service revenue growth from $2.2B in 2016 to $7.5B in 2022."

Advancement in low-power, long-range communication technology has also caused an uptick in the market. The report stated that improvements to Bluetooth and UWB has increased the effectiveness and range of location services.

"Basic tracking technologies, like bar codes and RFID, are used heavily in retail and logistics areas today,” Madden continued. “Around 9.6 billion RFID tags were used in 2016 despite the limitations in range and lack of real-time tracking capability. This marks an important baseline in Asset Tracking because low-cost RFID or bar-code tracking represent indirect competition for investment in enterprise market.”

The report found that healthcare organizations that use WiFi to track their assets will have new options for tracking things like medicine, organs, and other critical items depending on what their specific IT infrastructure requires.

The healthcare industry can benefit from IoMT asset tracking because it can potentially save money and help clinicians locate the items they need quickly, which can save a patient’s life in an emergency situation.

Back in June, Aruba Networks announced the release of its location-based, fully integrated WLAN asset tracking solution to assist healthcare organizations in lowering operational costs caused by misplaced equipment.

The solution is integrated into the Aruba wireless infrastructure, allowing organizations to keep track of IoT and connected medical devices.

“Organizations worldwide lose millions of dollars every year on high-value items and inventory that are misplaced, lost or stolen,” Aruba said in a statement. “Furthermore, employees and customers suffer from lost productivity and poor experiences.”

“These challenges are particularly prevalent in industries like healthcare, where items such as IV pumps and heart defibrillators are easily misplaced, resulting in 25 percent of hospital staff’s time wasted looking for these assets and negatively impacting quality of care.”

Integrating the solution into the Wi-Fi infrastructure eliminates the need to deploy a separate network. Aruba’s asset tracking solution uses a map-based mobile app, or integrates with an organization’s existing tracking solution to locate assets.

Earlier this year, Ruckus and TrackR collaborated to release a similar asset tracking solution that leverages Bluetooth WiFi access points to locate items.

Ruckus stated that the goal of this collaboration was to take task of remembering where items are so users can focus on their jobs rather than spend time locating things.

The importance of device monitoring has increased significantly as the healthcare industry continues to experience a critical digital evolution impacting patients and care. As these devices are introduced to health IT infrastructure, organizations are charged with tracking them and ensuring that patient data is not at risk if a device becomes compromised.

Devices being lost or stolen is one of the major risk factors associated with mobile devices used in healthcare settings. Leveraging the already existing wireless network instead of adding on an additional solution lets organizations monitor devices and detect if devices are in unauthorized locations. The quick reaction time this technology provides for IT administrators decreases the chances valuable data is compromised.

The number of connected medical devices is growing, making it harder to manually track them. Asset tracking allows clinicians to locate devices quickly as well as ensure that they are accessing the network securely.