“4 ways the Medical Sector is leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve patient care.”

It’s the doctors’ orders. Doctors and nurses need to take their Internet of Things pills!

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to reshape a number of industries, none more so than the healthcare sector (Telecare). If you or a loved one has undergone medical treatment recently you are probably aware of some of the cool new devices that help perform diagnosis and treatment. You may not be aware, however, that some of these devices are connected to the Internet and have become an important part of the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.

How does IoT benefit healthcare?

How exactly does connecting MRIs, a CT scanner, or lab test equipment in this way improve patient care? Here are four benefits:

  1. Improving the availability of devices through remote support and monitoring
    Remote management of IoT devices assists in testing and diagnosis. For example, a technician can connect from their own office and run diagnostics on an MRI that has failed. They can pinpoint the root cause of the problem and leverage a Knowledge Management application to find answers to common problems. The technician can also remotely connect to hospital technicians to provide “hands-on” support. When the root cause is identified, any replacement parts can be shipped with instructions about how to replace the defective component or it can be delivered by a field engineer.
  2. Proactive fulfilment by replenishing supplies before they are needed
    An IoT connected medical device can report back to the “mother ship” when critical operational components are being depleted in a device. For example, helium levels in an MRI machine need to be monitored to ensure that the device is operating correctly. A field engineer can be dispatched to the hospital in advance of the helium being depleted, avoiding a total machine shut-down and patient rescheduling.Lab devices require specific chemicals and compounds to operate and these assets can be tracked by connecting these devices. The asset depletion information can trigger alerts and automatic replenishment of the supplies limits down time and in turn improving patient and caregiver satisfaction.
  3. Efficient scheduling by leveraging utilisation to serve more patients
    Device utilisation is not readily available and currently it is gathered manually. An IoT medical device can provide daily utilisation statistics that can be leveraged for patient scheduling. For example, if a MRI machine in one location is only 20% utilised and one in another location is over-subscribed, doctors can re-assign patients to use the other scanner during off-peak times. The data can be fed into a cloud-based scheduling application and can also factor in periodic maintenance information. Or, if helium levels are low in one MRI, you can schedule a technician, schedule the maintenance activity, reschedule the patients affected, and perform the inventory/asset management functions and track them through a cloud application.
  4. Early intervention/prevention
    Healthy, active people can also benefit from IoT-driven monitoring of their daily activities and well-being. A senior living alone, for example, may want to have a monitoring device that can detect a fall or other interruption in everyday activity and report it to emergency responders or family members. For that matter, an active athlete such as a hiker or biker could benefit from such a solution at any age, particularly if it’s available as a piece of wearable technology.

Meanwhile, we are seeing the IoT building blocks of automation and machine-to-machine communication continue to be established. Bulb Things is excited to be a part of this revolution by providing end-to-end processing and connectivity solutions for IoT-driven healthcare solutions, working toward establishing standards for these solutions and accelerating innovation for organisations eager to realise the benefits of the IoT in healthcare.