Blog Automation

Smart Network = Smart Hospital = Smart Healthcare

Lauren Farah Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 2 Apr 2019

What an exciting time to be alive! Smart technology is revolutionizing healthcare. It’s making hospital stays less stressful and more enjoyable; It’s empowering clinicians with more expertise and time to spend with patients; It’s making care more personalized and less invasive.

It’s enhancing the human experience.

What do I mean? I’ve highlighted some of the innovations transforming healthcare today and the exciting impact they’re having on the patient and clinician experience.

Smart Building and IoT

According to recent research from Frost & Sullivan, “There will be up to 30 billion connected IoT and medical devices in healthcare by 2020.”

A fundamental component of becoming a smart hospital is embracing IoT technology throughout the entire facility to increase efficiency and patient satisfaction. This includes all medical devices and smart sensors that are connected to the network, including Wi-Fi, and enable machine-to-machine communication and an infinite abundance of useful data. The possibilities of this technology are endless. Imagine:

  • Electrically conductive yarn that is woven into hospital beds and monitors moisture and movement to alert healthcare staff of an infection/wound, or automatically adjusts the bed to proactively prevent sores
  • A vital sign monitoring system that transfers and analyzes high volumes of data in real-time in the hospital’s EHR system, saving nurses up to 30% of time transcribing to spend with patients
  • Patients being able to control their own environment with ease, including lighting, entertainment systems, heating, food selection, HVAC, and more at their fingertips
  • Digital medicine, in the form of pills with microscopic sensors, to treat conditions like hypertension or psychotic ailments to ensure proper usage since 50% of the prescribed medication is not taken as directed

Use cases like these no longer need to be imagined. This technology is already being developed or in use. Mt. Sinai Medical Center was able to reduce wait times for 50% of ER patients due to IoMT software. In an industry so reliant on human care and emotional support, these technologies will streamline staff processes, increase patient insight, and enhance engagement and satisfaction for better healthcare outcomes. What’s more, Goldman Sachs estimates there will be a $300-billion savings in annual healthcare expenditures attributed to IoMT technology.

Telehealth

The digital health market is expected to reach $206 billion by 2020

IoMT in the form of video chat platforms is having a real positive impact on the industry in certain scenarios. Hospitals are reducing readmission rates, minimizing costs, and reaching patients more broadly with the implementation of these remote services. Wearables and remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices are enabling clinicians to monitor patients post-discharge, keep them on track with their recovery plans, and reduce the costly burden of aging health problems or chronic conditions. In addition, healthcare providers are using mobile health (mHealth) apps, like ITriageand MyChart, to keep patients educated on specific conditions, illnesses, and preventative services.

Bowen Center, a nonprofit Mental Health care services provider throughout 21 counties in northern Indiana, has implemented Telepsychiatry to deliver services with leading physiologists to patients outside their reach of physical locations. The critical factor: having and reliable network connection to ensure a perfect patient experience while training sensitive emotional trauma.

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Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Physicians spend 21% of their time on non-clinical paperwork, taking significant time away from patient care

AI is already having life-changing impacts in healthcare, and we have only scratched the surface of its capabilities. The overwhelming influx of data produced by IoMT devices feed into AI and ML applications with complex algorithms that can analyze and make sense of it all, from different sources, and provide insight and recommendations that help physicians make more informed decisions. It is amazing to realize that AI has improved early detection; The American Cancer Society found that it reduced the need for unnecessary biopsies by translating mammogram data 30x faster with 99% accuracy. The same benefits are being seen in the diagnosis and developing treatment plans. The FDA recently approved an AI device that examines retina photos to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. The diagnostic device was able to correctly identify individuals without the disease 89.5% of the time.

AI thinks for itself and pays for itself. According to Accenture analysis, key clinical AI applications can create $150 billion in annual savings for the U.S. healthcare economy by 2026.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

AR/VR is arguably the most exciting technology impacting the healthcare scene because it looks and feels like something straight out of Star Trek (am I aging myself?) The truth is, it is delivering medical knowledge, expertise, and skills in real-time through a completely immersive sensory experience. Delivered through smart devices, medical professionals can use applications to assist in surgery and procedures, empower patients, and deliver treatment, for example:

  • AccuVein uses a handheld scanner to display blood vessels on the skin’s surface, making it easier for clinicians to visualize veins in difficult cases and increase patient comfort
  • Touch Surgery is an award-winning AR app that allows doctors to practice surgery procedures and has been integrated in over 100 U.S. residency programs
  • Proximie enables doctors to interface in real-time during procedures, and make annotations to enhance expertise utilization and guidance
  • EyeDecide offers patients visual simulations of varying eye conditions to help diagnose the vision distortion they are experiencing

Introducing the Smart Network: the Key to Your Digital Transformation

Although the benefits of these technologies are astounding, and many are yet to even be realized, implementing them does not come without challenges and key infrastructure requirements. HIMSS Analytics recently launched its new Infrastructure Adoption Model (INFRAM) that identifies key benchmarks healthcare organizations should achieve to ensure their IT infrastructure is ready for advanced building and clinical applications. By utilizing this model, hospitals gain peace of mind that they have the right foundation to improve care delivery, maximize business outcomes, and mitigate cyber and infrastructure risk.

Which brings me to my next point – cybersecurity. Patient, staff, and guest mobile devices, connected medical devices, and web-based technology all provide hackers a pathway to infiltrate the system. Healthcare organizations, especially, are the perfect target with all the patient information and data housed on the network, and life-critical devices and programs running that cannot be compromised for even a second. Recent ransomware attacks on hospitals have certainly been a wakeup call, but many hospitals are still failing to reassess their security requirements and make the drastic infrastructure changes truly necessary for modern IoT technology.

The digital innovations I highlighted above barely scratch the surface of the technology transforming the healthcare industry today, and the exciting potentials of tomorrow. However, none of this takes into account the IT infrastructure and security challenges involved in enabling hospitals to digitally transform. The troubling reality: hospitals have dwindling IT budgets despite their environments becoming infinitely more complex.  With an already overburdened IT team, connecting all of these applications requires more than just newer hardware. Healthcare organizations need a smarter network; one that is capable of connecting, learning, adapting, and securing next-generation hospital devices to elevate the human experience. A truly autonomous network

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