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Predictive Maintenance, Sensors Critical to Health IoT Success

As IoT adoption continues in health IT infrastructure, organizations are faced with managing and monitoring a high number of devices.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Modern healthcare organizations are faced with managing and monitoring Internet of Things (IoT) and connected medical devices. These devices serve many purposes from allowing clinicians to be mobile, to monitoring patient health. Health IoT success could bring numerous benefits to organizations.

Large healthcare organizations can have as many as 80,000 connected medical devices communicating with the network at any given time. The number of devices far exceeds the staff healthcare organizations have on hand to physically maintain these devices.

As a result, a device could stop communicating with the network, and depending on the device’s purpose, it may go unnoticed potentially causing problems for clinicians and other devices on the network.

A recent Markets and Markets report estimates that the predictive maintenance market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28 percent through 2021, which could in turn affect health IoT.

Report authors found that predictive maintenance solutions are steadily becoming more popular as organizations across all verticals are adopting more connected devices. Predictive maintenance software predicts asset failure, allowing organizations to remove a piece of equipment before it fails.

Predictive maintenance solutions allow organizations to remove devices before they conflict with workflow and cause problems. Researchers believe that cloud-based predictive maintenance is expected to see the most growth through 2021.

Healthcare organizations are moving more towards cloud-based IT infrastructure, to better automate processes.

For example, healthcare organizations are generally seeking to automate as much as their health IT infrastructure as possible to free up IT administrators for other tasks and prevent malfunctioning devices from going unseen.

Many healthcare organizations seeking ways better ways to manage and monitor connected devices are also looking into IoT sensors. The healthcare vertical is expected to be the number one IoT sensor market, according to a recent Research and Markets report.

Report authors found that the demand for IoT sensors is driven by increased clinician mobility and patient expectations. Patients are coming to expect technology comparable to what they use in their personal lives to be used in their healthcare.

Sensors allow healthcare organizations to securely monitor patient devices without restricting network access.

Sensors are also hardware that pairs with IoT deployments to monitor the processes of connected medical devices, taking measurements and collecting data.

Researchers found that because the IoT sensor market is competitive, the cost of deploying the sensors across a large hospital or multi-facility healthcare organization is relatively low. IoT devices that are not monitored with the proper solution can miscommunicate with the network.

A sensor will identify that an infusion pump is trying to send a web request out to the internet instead of just communicating with the management server. Devices communicating abnormally can cause security problems for the network and without a management solution, administrators may never detect small and potentially dangerous malfunctions.

Sensors are important to health IT infrastructure because IoT devices may have trouble communicating with each other or the network. This can lead to certain data being abandoned or irretrievable for future use. IoT sensors regulate the data and store it in data centers for future use.

While predictive maintenance solutions and IoT sensors serve operate in different ways, both technologies deal with monitoring devices and how they communicate with the network. Healthcare organizations would benefit from implementing both types of solutions especially if IoT and connected devices are already deployed.

Ensuring that connected medical and IoT devices are functioning correctly and communicating with the network in an efficient manner is key to a successful deployment.