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IoT Growth Sparks Healthcare Device Management, Visibility Solutions

The growth of medical IoT devices increases the need for infrastructure technology to manage the influx of network connections.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow and healthcare organizations are looking for solutions to manage the network connections, protocols, and data associated with the variety of IoT devices present in many health IT infrastructures.

A recent Research and Markets report highlights IoT growth across all major industries leading to organizations seeking solutions to manage the sensors, gateways, and embedded hardware and software found in many modern devices.

Healthcare IoT devices include clinician wearables and connected medical devices such as physiological monitors, mobile medical apps, and MRI/CT/ultrasound scanners. Organizations need to manage the actual devices, but the applications that go along with them.

Last year, health IT spending nearly doubled its investments in mobile health devices, making it far and away the most invested in health technology of 2016. Mobile device initiatives extend beyond smartphones, laptops, and tablets, to include IoT devices.

Applications and wearable sensors were the two most funded healthcare technologies of 2016, encompassing both traditional mobile devices along with healthcare IoT devices.

With the rapid growth of mobile adoption in the healthcare industry, organizations need solutions to manage the infrastructure resources used to run and deploy them, as well as gain network visibility to ensure secure connections for approved devices and wireless bandwidth is not over worked during high traffic periods.

When it comes to IoT device network access, visibility and control are the two main features healthcare organizations look for when evaluating their network infrastructure to support mobile and IoT devices.

According to Bob Zemke, Director of Healthcare Solutions at Extreme Networks, network visibility and control are key to a successful wireless deployments and the most-sought-after request healthcare organizations express when upgrading their networks.

Network visibility allows IT staff to know when and how connected medical devices are communicating with the network and where improvements can be made. Network visibility also gives healthcare organizations control over their networks and the devices connected to them.

Vendors and organizations are developing ways to track and manage IoT devices without investing in an entire solution to implement into an IT infrastructure.

Earlier this month, Ruckus Wireless and TrackR announced their joint solution to leverage Bluetooth low energy technology combined with Ruckus ZoneFlex access points (APs) to track enterprise IoT devices. Instead of implementing an entirely new management solution, organizations can use their existing wireless infrastructure to detect device connection and location across the network.

The visibility Ruckus and TrackR’s solution helps organizations see which approved and unapproved devices are accessing their network and from where they are accessing it. This level of management is valuable to healthcare organizations because it allows them to access network weaknesses, without making it too difficult for authorized IoT devices to connect.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) has seen a recent resurgence in the wake of healthcare IoT adoption as another way to manage IoT devices. Healthcare organizations were notoriously underinvested in ERP technology before the rapid growth of mobile devices.

ERP systems facilitate the current of information among different IT infrastructure solutions to improve the flow of data across an organization’s IT systems. In addition to network visibility, resource planning ensures that organizations are not wasting resources and using their infrastructure to the best of their ability. With IoT devices network resources need to be fully explored and utilized to support successful IoT deployment.

Cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technology support ERP systems by providing scalability and intelligent insights. Introducing IoT initiatives into cloud deployments gives ERP solutions another layer of data to process and streamline.

The Research and Markets report points to both platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) as viable IoT management options to achieve the scalability and control needed to manage remote and on-premise devices.

Healthcare organizations have several options to manage their IoT devices to ensure only authorized devices are accessing the network and the devices are functioning properly. With the increasing complexity of healthcare networks, the demand for IoT management solutions grows to ensure secure connections and infrastructure compatibility.