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Implementing Healthcare IoT Applications

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Jay_Osgood
Schneider Alumni (Retired)
Schneider Alumni (Retired)
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Implementing Healthcare IoT Applications

Your health organization has spent months looking over new investment opportunities. Countless meetings, negotiations, and discussions have gone by with vendors. The big moment has finally arrived... It is time to implement and deploy the latest IoT solution into your healthcare network.

 

Unfortunately, this is usually the most difficult phase of the process. In fact, almost 70% of all healthcare IoT implementations are considered unsuccessful. Although an IoT implementation is already a difficult project to deploy in a more controlled environment, within a healthcare facility it can feel like all factors have been turned up to 11. An error in the deployment means a lot more than just a drop in productivity.

 

Although the process of deploying an IoT application will never be 100 percent seamless, there are a few procedures that a development team can put into practice to make everyone’s life easier.

 

Creating a Synchronous Protocol

IoT implementations can sometimes feel like working on aX. Something is always being built onto something else or being integrated between existing systems. With so many variables, it is of vital importance that IoT developers and engineers create and follow a synchronous implementation protocol.  

 

In some cases, engineers and developers feel riddled with anxiety and begin cramming too many technical solutions in the hopes of solving every problem. This will only result in endless complications. Instead, IoT developers need to focus on building “thin” devices, where the primary duty of the sensors is data acquisition. Other functions, such as analytics, reporting and identification, can be offloaded to the actual IoT network instead, which frees up smart devices and allows them to maintain high levels of performance.

 

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Continuously Test Results for All Stakeholders

After a lengthy deployment phase, it can be easy for developers and engineers to kick up their feet and pat themselves on the back. Unfortunately, the job is still not done. Now comes the time for testing and monitoring across the healthcare organization.

 

The key to successful monitoring is to include all key stakeholders. This includes IT administrators, the hospital’s accounting team, and of course, the doctors, nurses and medical technicians who use these IoT devices to care for patients. In certain situations, even patients can be brought into the process.

 

When monitoring how well an IoT device is performing after initial deployment, increased efficiency from an accounting standpoint could mean very little if technicians aren’t able to input data into an IoT device because the sensor won’t connect to the hospital’s network or the device takes too long to process information. The nurse grows frustrated, they toss the device to the side and continue logging information on paper chart. Although hospital administrators may think everything is great because of a drop in incoming patients, in reality, that data has simply not been updated in real-time.

 

A network that handles the majority of duties can be tailored so that it can handle the ever-growing number of devices being added while remaining closed to unnecessary devices. It also provides a base code that can be modified to the growing technical needs this equipment can handle. Rather than attempting to modify the network to accompany countless devices, device firmware can be adapted to one unified IoT network, reducing security risks and technical complications that arise during the implementation process.

 

Always Think 2 Generations Ahead and Remain Adaptable

Despite the rosy picture vendors paint about the Internet of Things and how it will revolutionize healthcare, public hospitals are very often playing catch-up when it comes to technology. Between the ever-evolving advances in the tech sector, expensive implementation costs, budget cuts to public health services and the slow pace of public sector implementations, a smart hospital will often make the best use of a technology for several generation cycles before it can even hope of purchasing new equipment.

 

This is the reality IoT developers and engineers need to accept. The latest and greatest innovations mean little to medical professionals if they quickly become obsolete. IoT applications and devices must be developed and deployed with foresight. Firmware must be adaptable so that updates can be done at regular intervals. The amount of bandwidth required by a device must also be kept in-check or else risks being abandoned if it slows down other devices or is unable to keep up with them.

 

A truly successful IoT implementation is one that future development teams can build upon and improve with time. Short-term thinking will simply result in another tool nurses and doctors wish they could get replaced after a few years.

 

Consider Energy-Efficiency Across All Devices 

In a hospital setting, drained batteries and long charge times are a recipe for disaster. When implementing and testing equipment, IoT devices must perform at all times, at any time. Charging stations, integrated sensors and real-time inventory updates are all crucial when it comes to keeping track of connected medical devices. With a proper inventory system set up, medical professionals can keep track of which instruments are ready to use, how many are available at all times, which ones need more time on the charger, which units are out-of-order and where in the hospital units these units are located.

 

When a patient comes into the Emergency Room, every second counts. Nurses don’t have time to ask where a specific medical instrument is, or take time to check the battery level.

 

Although no IoT implementation will ever be completely seamless, following these best practices can allow your team to increase their chances of success and provide medical professionals with new digital healthcare tools that can aid them in their important work.

 

For more information on healthcare IoT technology and how it improves services for smart hospitals, explore the Schneider Electric Exchange community.

 

Keep the conversation going! Tune in to Schneider Electric’s new Podcast Series for Everyday Extraordinary Healthcare focusing on Resiliency. Start listening.

 

Visit, Share, Ask your questions and get expert answers in Exchange Solutions for Healthcare Forum!

 

Sources:

IOT IN HEALTHCARE: BENEFITS, CHALLENGES AND APPLICATIONS

Using Modern IoT-Style Protocols For Next-Generation Connected Medical Devices

Why IoT Devices Are a Worthy Investment for Hospitals