IoT: medical devices meet corporate IT
Medical devices are renowned for being at the forefront of research and development. Modern equipment now integrates wired and wireless networking technology, allowing for real-time patient information and improved treatment.
The immediate benefit of the Internet of Things (IoT) for medical devices is the effect on patient care. One of the biggest challenges in the medical industry is managing information collected in the field. Paper-based processes are still commonplace in hospitals and clinics, and lengthy delays are experienced when data needs to be transferred between departments.
Eliminating error and increasing automation and speed
Networked devices have the potential to eliminate error-prone, handwritten notes and to transmit data in real time or near real time. In the case of a simple temperature reading, a networked thermometer can send a reading directly to the patient’s doctor and trigger an alarm if the value is out of an expected range. Other routine treatments, such as drug dispensing, can be automated, dramatically reducing the risk of an overdose.
Improvements at the corporate level
In addition to the frontline healthcare advantages, medical device IoT also presents a number of opportunities to improve the way organisations in the industry operate their corporate information systems and business processes.
As more devices join the network, exponentially more data will need to be managed by the IT team. This presents numerous challenges in terms of network connectivity, data storage, and processing but also presents several benefits in improving service levels and managing assets.
IoT healthcare devices have the ability to:
- Integrate medical data with backend systems, such as health records
- Track the performance of a device over time to better detect any problems that directly impact treatment levels/li>
- Gather equipment maintenance data and track usage patterns
- Improve device management by sending updates to devices over the network
- Better track and manage medical assets and schedule their use for optimal return on device investments
Not only does IoT provide several opportunities for larger organisations such as hospitals, it also improves outpatient care by enabling the use of networked devices in the home or in lower-cost clinics, as the data can be collated and acted upon from any location. With less of a requirement to be in a treatment location, the potential to free up beds in hospitals is another benefit of healthcare IoT.