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AWS Expands Healthcare Internet of Things Capabilities

AWS announced tools to help organizations support their healthcare Internet of Things solutions by managing and securing large fleets of connected devices.

healthcare internet of things

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Amazon Web Services (AWS) made several announcements at AWS re:Invent concerning the healthcare Internet of Things (IoT), data management, and cloud computing.

The rapid growth of healthcare IoT devices calls for tools that will allow IT staff to quickly onboard and manage new connected devices. AWS’ latest tools also give IoT devices extended capabilities so they can be managed, secured, and analyzed to benefit healthcare providers.

“The explosive growth in the number and diversity of connected devices has led to equally explosive growth in the number and scale of IoT applications,” AWS Vice President of IoT Dirk Didascalou said in a statement. “The next phase of IoT is all about scale as we’ll see customers exponentially expand their fleet of connected devices.”

AWS IoT 1-Click, available in preview, uses the IoT to perform simple functions such as asset tracking or reordering supplies. Organizations can deploy this function by downloading the mobile app onto the device and enabling the function.

The tool features pre-built AWS Lambda code for common actions such as email, and developers can use the Lambda code to build additional custom functions.

READ MORE: Using Broadband to Support Internet of Medical Things

The company also released a series of IoT tools that will secure, manage, and analyze the data generated by large fleets of connected devices. These tools are designed to help entities organize the potentially thousands of devices they will onboard onto their network. Onboarding and managing IoT devices using traditional methods is no longer convenient as it takes too much time.

AWS IoT Device Management is tailored to IoT devices as opposed to a traditional mobile device management solution. The tool helps organizations securely onboard, organize, monitor, and manage devices remotely. AWS IoT Device Management also sees devices through their entire lifecycle, managing them from setup, through software updates, to retirement.

The tool includes a console where devices can be registered and gives options to group similar devices together, upload attributes, upload certificates, and access policies. The remote monitoring also lets IT staff trouble shoot device functions, update software, reboot, rest, patch, and restore devices from anywhere.

AWS IoT Device Defender addresses the security concerns organizations may have when deploying a high volume of remotely monitored IoT devices. The tool continuously audits device security policies to make sure the devices are not doing anything or accessing anything they aren’t supposed to.

Security monitoring is particularly important to the healthcare IoT because patient-owned devices often contain PHI. If these devices are compromised, patient data could be at risk.

READ MORE: Internet of Medical Things Security Gaps Threaten Health IT

AWS IoT Analytics cleans, processes, stores, and analyzes IoT device data. Once organizations have a secure and managed fleet of devices, analytics is often the next step, according to AWS. The tool aims to sort through data and eliminate data gaps, corrupted messages, and false readings that can manipulate analytics results.

AWS IoT Analytics simplifies the process, so organizations can easily identify the device and the data in which they need more insight. Organizations can more effectively use devices when they have greater insight into how the devices can be utilized.  

Philips Healthcare is currently using AWS IoT tools to provide clinicians and patients with a better understanding of the data the organization’s devices collect.

“We’re launching new health IoT services that we believe will dramatically improve our scale and capabilities,” Philips HealthSuite Digital Platform Vice President and General Manager Dale Wiggins said in a statement. “Part of the Philips solution involves managing connected devices that doctors and hospitals will rely on so they can deliver first class healthcare services.”

“We chose AWS IoT services to ensure we can meet our customers’ scale and reliability requirements,” he continued. “We have expanded these services to ensure that data from these devices is appropriately routed, devices are updated to the latest firmware, and are monitored to ensure they function properly in the field.” 

READ MORE: How to Build a Successful Healthcare Mobility Solution

AWS also has plans to release a new AWS Greengrass feature that will allow developers to add machine learning to their applications for edge computing.

The volume of devices being introduced makes it impractical to communicate data to a centralized location to be analyzed. Machine learning at the edge will let clinicians collect and analyze patient data in near real-time so it can be consulted at the point of care for more accurate diagnoses.

The latest IoT announcements from AWS support the growth of healthcare IoT by giving organizations more visibility and control over their networked devices. This control allows them to leverage IoT devices for actionable insight into device functions and patient data.