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Preparing Your Healthcare Organization for IoT Growth

The healthcare IoT is growing as organizations use connected medical devices to gain better insight into workflow operations and patient care.

The healthcare IoT is growing

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The healthcare industry is experiencing Internet of Things (IoT) growth and the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 30 percent through 2022.  Organizations seek advanced technology to reduce healthcare costs and provide better patient care, according to a recent Research and Markets report.

The healthcare industry is seeing a significant rise in healthcare IoT solutions as connected medical devices become more advanced. The evolution of artificial intelligence technology, and the increasing penetration of connected devices in the healthcare industry are some of the major factors expected to drive the market, report authors stated.

The report predicted that the clinical research segment is expected to grow at the highest CAGR. Medical researchers are implementing IoT technology to collect better, more accurate data on patients and medical processes.

The IoT assists healthcare organizations by improving operational efficiency. Medical equipment connected to IoT communicates with staff when maintenance is required before it malfunctions.

Medical device communication saves organizations time on lengthy repairs by communicating when preventative maintenance measures need to be taken, saving organizations money by extending the life of expensive medical equipment.

Healthcare IoT devices include clinician wearables and connected medical devices, such as physiological monitors, mobile medical apps, and MRI/CT/ultrasound scanners. 

In addition to maintenance, IoT devices give organizations a better understanding of patient behavior and helps improve workflow.

Newton-Wellesley implemented IoT devices to improve recognition and response to changes in patient conditions.

Newton-Wellesley reported that the EarlySense Continuous Monitoring System implementation has an overall reduction of 59 percent in median nurse response times to alarms. The 265-bed hospital implemented the solution to detect irregularities in heart and respiratory rate and patient motion to detect adverse events earlier.

"Throughout the course of our Early Detection of Deterioration Project we have documented dozens of case studies in which continuous monitoring aided our staff in early detection and diagnosis,” Newton-Wellesley Hospital Chief Operating Officer, Division of Hospital Medicine, Dr. Perry An, MD said in a statement. “This, combined with our success in minimizing the frequency of false alarms, has allowed Newton-Wellesley to significantly improve its response times and achieve better patient outcomes."

The IoT device contains a sensor that is placed under the patient’s mattress to provide detection of patient deterioration. It also alerts staff before the event occurs, increasing the success rate of treatment.

Healthcare organizations are implementing IoT solutions to gain valuable insight to help them eliminate unnecessary processes and gain visibility into their organization. However, organizations need to properly prepare for the influx of network traffic brought on by IoT devices.

Larger healthcare organizations deploying IoT solutions need to consider the strain the extra devices put on the network.

For example, an average ICU room can have up to 20 connected medical devices in it. A ward can have as many as 20 rooms, each with 20 devices. The number of connections adds up quickly as each department introduces their share of IoT devices into the IT infrastructure ecosystem.

A large organization with 30,000 computers connected to the network may also be supporting around 85,000 connected medical devices. These connected IoT devices put massive strain on the network and can cause outages if the traffic is not managed and monitored properly.

Healthcare organizations are also charged with managing all the IoT devices in their network. Adopting a device management solution that gives IT administrators complete visibility and control over the network is crucial to successful implementation.

Organizations need to implement IoT management solutions that prioritize critical devices and systems over less urgent uses. Dealing with network capacity limits begins with understanding all of the devices connected to the network and what kind of information they are communicating. Mission-critical data needs to have priority over IoT devices “chatting” with the network.

IoT devices are vital to healthcare organizations looking to improve workflow operations in patient care. Organizations need to be aware of the strain IoT devices put on the network build a network infrastructure that can scale to support the influx of connections. 


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