Demands on the healthcare industry are driving technology advancements to help healthcare providers transform their businesses. The Internet of Things (IoT) can directly boost patient engagement by giving their healthcare providers more time to interact with the patient.
There’s a confluence of technologies delivering tremendous amounts of data that will positively impact the healthcare industry. However, hospital executives and IT professionals are increasingly concerned about the proliferating demands on data security and IoT device management. IoT drives many ISVs to develop applications that benefit the caregiver, the patient’s family and, most importantly, the patient. These IoT technologies can help doctors deliver more meaningful insights to a wide range of illnesses from chronic conditions like diabetes to long-term recovery monitoring. IoT applications will need to bring more than just raw data but the ability for healthcare providers to ingest this data and simultaneously make sense of all the connecting elements to provide better care for their patients.
Hospitals are starting to utilize IoT, for the most part, from asset management to controlling temperature and humidity in operating rooms. Below are a just a few more examples of how the healthcare industry is adopting IoT:
Wearable Tracking Devices Drive Down Costs and Provide Better Patient Outcomes
“70 million people in the U.S. are using wearable tracking devices to monitor their physical activity, sleep patterns, calorie consumption and much more.” Biometrics and wearable tracking can geo-fence mentally ill or impaired patients, help out-patients track and report activity, heart rate, steps and so much more to their doctors and therapists. “Patient monitoring can be done on a real-time basis, thus significantly cutting down on unnecessary visits by doctors. In particular, home care facilities that are advanced are guaranteed to cut down on hospital stays and re-admissions.”
Patient-Centered Care for Improved Patient Satisfaction Scores
The healthcare industry has a new approach to providing care that puts the central focus on the patient. With the patient at the center of care, the goal becomes improving patient satisfaction scores and engagement. An article written by Dr. James Merlino articulates precisely how this new approach is improving and advancing the healthcare industry, patient care and engagement. IoT doesn’t have to mean sensors that provide telemetry to physicians. IoT can aggregate comments from doctors, nurses, patients, patients’ families, social media, etc. and access deeper and richer insights to provide better patient care, thus driving up patient satisfaction scores.
But IoT and patient-centered devices are new territories, and the ‘how’ of engaging them is something that healthcare professionals are exploring. The healthcare industry as a whole is just beginning to look into ways to interact efficiently and effectively with patients outside of a traditional office visit. For example, many providers are exploring ways to employ social media tools to build relationships with clients outside of the office and attract new clients who are searching the internet for services and products related to their specific healthcare needs.
Increased Data Demands
The more information a physician has, the better care they can provide, right? This concept seems to be the holy grail; however, too much information delivered in the wrong way can restrict and even prevent the doctor from properly diagnosing a patient. Both clinicians and administrative leaders are hungry for data to help make decisions and guide their planning. But there always seems to be a missing piece of information which could be the necessary data to track patients, upload at-home care data, environmental influences and other complications. Stories like the one in Merlino’s article about a provider trying to track which nursing facility a patient was discharged to, remind us the real and potentially serious consequences of technology that doesn’t adapt to the patient’s and provider’s needs.
As we find more uses for this advancing and exciting technology, it’s important to remember the goal of developing it. We must continue to improve technologies and adjust them to real life needs and experiences and in doing so, overcome unreliable data and/or cumbersome processes. One of the best ways to do this is to employ analytics in an enterprise data warehouse (EDW). “An EDW enables healthcare professionals to analyze real-time data easily through analytics applications. As demands for access to high-quality, accurate data continue to grow, workers will want better analytics tools, such as EDWs, so they can improve care and reduce costs.”
Health care administrators must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations and privacy issues it addresses. It is paramount to protect patient privacy and avoid breaches. Data protection is a critical issue that’s top of mind for providers, payers and consumers. Data security needs to be increased, monitored and evolved to avoid HIPAA violations, ensuring patient privacy protection and securing the reputation and accountability of institutions and providers.
As we move forward in designing, selling and distributing IoT devices, we must be diligent in understanding what challenges providers face. We must find innovative solutions that help them find and seize new opportunities to increase patient engagement, care and freedom. IoT is advancing so quickly that the culmination of these types of technologies within healthcare have allowed the industry to capitalize on new-business models, increased patient care, monitoring and follow up. These advancements allow providers a means to create new-care plans for patients.
The channel is ripe with opportunities to take these real-life needs and create partnerships to develop technologies and new lines of business for value-added resellers (VARs). It’s essential to provide VARs openings to have practical business conversations with their healthcare customers and provide real IoT solutions to solve real healthcare problems.
Enterprise IoT, Tech Data
Sam has more than two decades in leading IT operations as director and interim CIO of IT, and led professional service and technical sales teams as director. He’s a strategic thought leader in information technology, SaaS, PaaS, the Internet of Things, data analytics and data center security. Sam is responsible for growing the U.S. and Canadian business in IoT and data analytics by identifying opportunities for channel expansion.