Using IoT to Fix Real Problems in Healthcare
By Kapil Asher
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a revolution, a new technological era, and of course, a buzzword. There’s probably a bit of truth to them all.
It’s undeniable though that the IoT phenomenon is causing a stir across a host of industries, and in turn, affecting consumer behavior. Remarkable strides have been made by tech companies in hardware, software and cloud computing to transform information from physical assets into actionable data.
Some companies are focused on simplifying day-to-day life, such as improving your home with Wi-Fi enabled thermostats (Nest), garage openers and home security systems. Other companies are focused on increasing consumer engagement in retail and entertainment, resource sharing (Uber), as well as personal health and fitness (Apple, Fitbit).
There’s also a focus on solving complex logistical challenges and gaining efficiencies in industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare.
However, many healthcare providers still depend on a rudimentary process like a clipboard and pen to record the temperature of medical equipment. More advanced methods include data loggers that are networked and can notify healthcare providers when temperatures fall out of specification. Networked monitors are leaps and bounds ahead of manual recordings but are still a reactive solution.
Accruent strives to solve real problems in the healthcare industry by utilizing versatile IoT technology to develop innovative solutions and creating closed-loop workflows, designed with multiple automated and manual inputs. Hospitals can capture information and take action before equipment fails by monitoring the health of the cold storage unit itself with an intelligent sensor and Accruent’s IoT platform.
For example, preemptive servicing of storage units can be enabled by constantly monitoring conditions such as:
- doors left open due to negligence
- unusually long defrost cycles
- compressors working overtime
- loss of AC power
Sensors placed on medical devices allow for automated data collection, providing insight into the equipment’s location and condition. Each asset and device in the hospital typically has unique technical requirements for connecting to the cloud and a computerized maintenance management system. Challenges with locating assets can be resolved by using Active RTLS (real-time locating systems) or Passive RFID (radio-frequency identification), while equipment condition challenges can be resolved by monitoring temperature, humidity and utilization in real time .
Monitoring the storage temperature of critical assets and supplies across hospital and pharmaceutical environments is required to ensure safety and compliance. RTLS temperature monitoring is a proactive measure by healthcare providers to ensure the integrity of items such as blood, food, medications, and tissue samples. Actively monitoring the critical temperatures of these items helps hospitals eliminate manual regulatory documentation and paper log reporting, and save thousands of dollars a year in loss prevention due to incorrect storage temperatures.
For the healthcare industry, there’s an opportunity to preserve often-expensive or even irreplaceable products such as pharmaceuticals, vaccines, or human organs and tissues that must be stored at a constant temperature. Efficient maintenance of cold storage units enabled by a revolutionary, yet straightforward IoT solution provides enhanced patient care and improves the bottom line.
About the Author
Kapil Asher has been working on successfully integrating sensors in various industrial applications long before the term “Internet of Things” was ubiquitous. Having deep knowledge of cutting edge technologies, Kapil has been able to leverage their use in creating process efficiencies through automation. As Director of IoT Solutions, Kapil works with hospitals in identifying challenges related to medical equipment availability, compliance on preventive maintenance and monitoring environmental conditions affecting patient care. Leveraging LEAN methodology and technological nuances, he prescribes long-term sustainable solutions to achieve operational excellence and enabling hospital staff to focus on care delivery. Kapil’s specialties include sensor hardware including passive and active RFID, software architecture, data analytics and workflow optimization.