How IoT is improving patient outcomes
The healthcare industry has advanced tremendously in the past 100 years, from gene therapy to 3D printing to imaging machines, the improvements that make modern medicine modern aren’t slowing down anytime soon. However, it’s not just scientific and biological advances that are making humans happier and healthier — it’s technological ones too. Most notably, developments in IoT, or the Internet of Things. Let’s take a look at how IoT is improving patient outcomes.
Jump to what you need:
- Why is improving the patient experience important?
- How healthcare is utilizing IoT to improve patient outcomes
- Key considerations for IoT integrations in healthcare
Why is improving the patient experience important?
Excellent patient care and experience is a top priority for healthcare providers. This could mean a lot of things depending on who you ask: maybe it’s as small as a friendly and reassuring smile to a nervous patient or as integral as a timely and accurate diagnosis. But this isn’t easy to do when facilities are short-staffed, pulled in thousands of directions, or have inaccurate or incomplete patient data.
Let’s picture the best-case scenario. A patient comes in with a range of symptoms, they’re monitored constantly and accurately. The care team knows exactly how much medication it has (and where it is) and can diagnose and treat the patient in a timely fashion — ensuring the right care at the right time and a much more seamless experience for the patient.
Suggested reading: Applications of IoT for Healthcare
How healthcare is utilizing IoT to improve patient outcomes
In the previous example, there’s a high likelihood that IoT plays a critical role in improving the experience both for the healthcare team and their patients. Let’s look at some of the technology that’s making patient care better than ever.
IoT enhances care with interconnected medical devices
Connected medical devices can monitor and collect real-time data about a patient and instantly share the information with doctors, nurses, parents, guardians, pharmaceutical companies, and any other approved party. While these can be useful for monitoring sick patients, IoT sensors can also be used to collect data over time and gain greater insights about certain diseases, how effective treatment plans are, and other valuable insights that can help doctors better understand and treat current and future patients.
Remote patient monitoring provides real-time data
With IoT devices that can send data in real-time, health care professionals can consistently monitor a patient’s well being without being in the same room as them. This opens up many possibilities. Elderly patients can be monitored remotely from their homes or patients in the hospital can have more time to decompress or relax without someone else physically with them. In both cases, the patient is provided the same level of care but with greater flexibility.
It also means staff can be used more strategically. The facility can prioritize in-person care and procedures while remotely monitoring other patients — saving money and resources while improving care. Some common IoT-enabled monitoring devices include glucose monitoring, heart rate monitoring, smart inhalers, and Parkinson's disease monitoring.
Suggested reading: Monitoring patients from afar: How Hologram & Vital Health Links connect patients with their doctors
Smart building upgrades make a more comfortable environment
IoT can also be put to use in slightly more subtle ways, but with outcomes that will have an important impact nonetheless. For example, a hospital might use RFID tags to monitor and track supplies and equipment, which will help the facility stay more organized and ensure staff has everything they need to treat patients.
The same healthcare facility might also make use of adaptive heating and lighting that can keep a patient comfortable while being treated. Smart lighting has been shown to reduce energy costs related to lighting by as much as 80%, and according to Energy Star, smart thermostats can save about 8% on heating costs every year — both welcome savings for healthcare systems.
Smart sensors create quicker alerts to medical staff
Smart sensors that monitor patients’ vitals and immediately alert medical staff to an issue could make a lifesaving difference. Not only does this mean faster care in the event of an emergency, but peace of mind when there isn’t one.
These sensors, which may also be used for patient monitoring, can even rely on algorithms to analyze real-time data and alert doctors or nurses, and provide recommendations for the next steps.
Key considerations for IoT integrations in healthcare
When integrating IoT solutions into healthcare situations, like anything, there are certain considerations to be mindful of before getting started. While each use case may have its own unique needs and challenges, consider the following list of common factors when building an IoT solution for the healthcare space.
Establish security protocols
Privacy is rarely more important than in a medical setting, and safeguarding patients’ personal health data and information is crucial. Unfortunately, bad actors or cyber criminals may try to gain access to a system, so it’s important to establish robust security protocols that keep all information and data — both about patients and the facility itself — safe.
With Hologram, IoT healthcare devices are protected from unwanted connections, against unintended inside threats, and against hackers who may try to leverage devices to communicate with other devices. The Hologram Dashboard also makes it easy to monitor data usage to detect device tampering and easily pause and deactivate devices that have been tampered with.
Utilize redundant networks with cellular IoT
The last thing you want is an IoT device that’s monitoring critical patient vital signals to lose connectivity. This could risk the patient’s care and make it hard — if not impossible — to recoup any insights the sensor would have collected. This is why redundancy is critical in a cellular IoT deployment plan.
A plan that considers every predictable failure point will be integral to an IoT-enabled healthcare facility. Hologram’s SIM cards include automatic carrier switching so you never lose connectivity. This could be particularly important for wearable sensors that are monitoring patients as they live their regular lives — whether they’re in a dense urban area or rural getaway — their device will automatically switch from one carrier to the next.
Be aware of pricing models
As you consider your deployment plan, be aware of pricing models from connectivity providers. Consider both your current needs and future needs when researching connectivity providers. Hologram offers pay-as-you-go flexible data plans as well as high volume data plans, so depending on the specific healthcare use case, there is a plan that will suit device manufacturer’s needs and provide seamless connectivity for end users. Better yet, Hologram automatically applies bundle discounts as you scale deployment and add more devices.
Opt for a plug-and-play solution
Consider a plug-and-play solution that doesn’t require manual configuration to get devices running and online. With a cellular connectivity option like Hologram, you can trust devices will connect without end-user set up. Plus, Hologram Preflight provides free test data, allowing you to minimize costs while ensuring a smooth deployment. You’ll be able to perform quality assurance at the point of manufacture, but data charges won’t begin until you’re ready to launch.
Suggested reading: What is the best connectivity option for healthcare devices?
Power healthcare innovation with Hologram’s reliable, secure IoT connectivity
IoT is improving the patient experience and outcomes — but new devices are only as good as their connectivity. With Hologram, innovators get a plug-and-play IoT connectivity solution that prioritizes security and privacy, and in turn, healthcare teams can monitor patients remotely, track data for greater illness insight, better utilize staff, and keep patients as comfortable as possible. Get connected today.
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