Why Does Healthcare Need the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the way many industries operate today, providing efficiencies, optimizing workflows, and delivering critical data throughout the organization.
While industries like logistics, manufacturing, and retail are most commonly associated with IoT integration, the healthcare field is largely untapped. Wider adoption of IoT solutions has the potential to save lives, lower the cost of care delivery, and reduce the burden on our already stressed healthcare system.
How IoT can help in healthcare
There are many ways in which IoT can support improvements in healthcare:
Turning data into action
IoT devices can monitor many things, from patient vital signs to tracking medication. This reduces the time and effort it would typically take to stay on top of these events, freeing up nursing staff to focus on quality care.
Improve care outcomes
Using wearable monitors connected to an IoT platform, immediate notifications help to keep patients out of the ER. This allows patients and doctors to monitor conditions more accurately and helps care teams make better decisions for the patients.
Improve patient experience in the hospital
Hospital identification wristbands equipped with tracking technology can offer insights on patient experience from the moment they check in, delivering powerful insights to help the organization identify areas that need improvement. This can help caregivers see when a patient has been waiting for a long time and support the expeditious allocation of care.
Sensors can monitor patient vital signs as well as their location in the healthcare facility, ensuring that they don’t get lost or suffer a medical emergency without immediate notification. Sensors can also verify patient identity, assuring that the appropriate action is taken in each case.
Asset tracking and maintenance
Beyond patient services, IoT sensors can be placed on hospital equipment to track the location and disposition of each item. This is particularly helpful in the case of a smaller care facility that shares a single diagnostic tool that may need to be found quickly. Personnel is notified when machines are not performing at an optimum level or if they require maintenance, reducing downtime, and potentially saving lives in the process.
The automation that is enabled by IoT can support improved patient engagement. Patient engagement is directly linked to better treatment compliance, which may lead to more positive health outcomes overall.
Lowering costs and improving collaboration between departments
The cloud-based IoT infrastructure allows immediate access to data, which can then be acted upon appropriately. Examples could include a handoff to another department or specialty, or communicating patient information to their loved ones, such as letting them know when the patient is out of surgery or ready to go home. When data travels with the patient, it enables a more integrated workflow and operational improvement.
In conclusion, the range of benefits that IoT offers in the healthcare industry is great, and the rewards are far-reaching. With more widespread adoption, IoT will support the monumental effort to lower costs and improve the quality of life for our entire population.