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Real-Time Operating Systems Support Healthcare IoT

Healthcare organizations are embracing advanced infrastructure technology as real-time point of care solutions emerge.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- A large aspect of advanced health IT infrastructure is giving clinicians access to real-time data to assist them in making informed decisions at the point of care. As a result, the real-time operating systems (RTOS) market for the healthcare Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to grow significantly through 2022, according to a recent Mind Commerce Publishing report.

An RTOS is an OS that manages hardware resources, hosts applications, and processes data in real-time. According to the report, the biggest difference between RTOS and traditional OSes is the high degree of reliability and consistency on timing between the application’s acceptance of a task and the task’s completion.

RTOSes help real-time medical applications do their job and improve the performance in IoT medical devices by ensuring that they meet regulation requirements.

RTOSes are needed to truly benefit from the data collected by IoT devices to fully embrace IoT.

For healthcare organizations in particular, RTOSes are used to control a device in a dedicated application, such as medical imaging systems. The RTOS gives users access to sensitive information within defined response times, which can be adjusted to meet certain demands.

Each IoT medical device needs some type of OS embedded into it. The embedded system needs to perform its functions in real-time to meet certain parameters set by the IT administrator.

However, the purpose of an RTOS is much more minimal than a standard OS, such as Windows, because it is focused only on providing the application with resources it needs rather than the needs of an entire PC.

Clinicians in emergency rooms and ICUs are the prime target for RTOSes for IoT devices. Everything in an emergency room or ICU is time sensitive and clinicians need access to the latest information as soon as its available. Therefore, RTOSes are a critical part of point of care diagnostics.

By ensuring real-time data is being sorted and dealt with properly, healthcare organizations are able to provide patients with more information and perform more diagnostics at the point of care.

According to a recent Kalorama Information report, healthcare providers are spending money on advanced infrastructure technology to help with point of care diagnostics.

"The driving force behind point of care innovations in the health arena is to provide expedited diagnosis where the patient is seen or in the patient's home," Publisher of Kalorama Information Bruce Carlson said in a statement. 

"New technologies are allowing point of care devices to produce quantitative lab-quality test results that can be transferred automatically to an information system, a remote caregiver service for consultation, or an electronic medical record."

The growth of remote care and telehealth also puts pressure on organizations to support and produce real-time data. Clinicians visiting remote patients in telehealth scenarios need to communicate with their datacenters in real-time to give the patient personal care in a timely manner.

Healthcare organizations are faced with the continued growth of the IoT and how to benefit from the technology. A significant part of the healthcare IoT is managing the data collected and using it effectively.

Healthcare IoT devices include clinician wearables and connected medical devices, such as physiological monitors, mobile medical apps, and MRI/CT/ultrasound scanners. Each device communicates a wealth of structured and unstructured data, constantly communicating with the network.

RTOSes are an important part of health IT infrastructure for organizations looking embrace more advanced diagnostics at the point of care.