As populations grow, facilities age and patients demand better service, hospital operations will be pushed to their limits. But there is hope. The Internet of Things (IoT) will enable more efficient operations, satisfied patients, safer healthcare facilities and a truly digital hospital. IoT turns data into action by allowing users to connect devices, collect critical data, analyze, and react using real-time information to enhance performance and prevent losses.
BI Intelligence, a research service of Business Insider, projects the installed base of healthcare IoT devices (excluding wearables like fitness trackers) will grow from 95 million in 2015 to 646 million in 2020.
This growing number of devices is generating a data tidal wave. With the right tools, healthcare facilities will derive insight and take actions based on that data to make better operating and patient care decisions.
What Trends are Driving Digital Hospitals?
How will the pairing of IoT devices and the data they produce translate to better healthcare facility operations and patient care? A few trends point the way.
- Joining the IT and OT worlds to deliver actionable data.
The IT/OT convergence is when information systems that hold business data and operating systems that manage facilities and equipment combine datasets to drive better decision making and process improvements. “In the past, OT systems largely acted independently of their IT counterparts,” states Warren Rosebraugh, Schneider Electric Healthcare Solution Architect. “What we see now is a rapid switch to a convergence of building systems including HVAC, lighting, energy management and security into a centralized hub — providing facility personnel with more intelligent building data than ever before.” Moorfields Eye Hospital in London is a prime example of IT/OT convergence. The century-old hospital was struggling with an aging infrastructure that was working against them instead of for them. With EcoStruxure for Healthcare, the hospital leveraged IoT to integrate building, power, and security management into one smart, collaborative platform where facility managers can monitor and control opportunities for energy efficiency, improved productivity, and better use of time and resources. With technology on their side, Moorfields could reduce operating costs, spend less time maintaining systems, and ensure power reliability for critical areas such as the operating theaters. Learn more about EcoStruxure for Healthcare at Moorfields.
Smarter use of location information to protect people and property
Another recent trend is the use of real-time location systems (RTLS). Using RTLS, healthcare facilities can track equipment, patients, and staff to accomplish goals such as:
- Preventing theft, violence, and infant abduction
- Right-sizing medical equipment inventory
- Decrease the amount of time searching for equipment, and thus increase the amount of time spent with patients
- Using it to understand patient flow patterns.
Moorfields included RTLS in their EcoStruxure for Healthcare solution to achieve a better understanding of patient flow in the hopes of using the information to reduce wait times. This white paper offers an in-depth look at how RFID and RTLS improve patient safety, satisfaction, and care, all while reducing waste.
Providing mobile apps to improve patient satisfaction.
Patients expect to be treated with the utmost care while in the hospital. But this extends past clinical care and into their entire experience while in the hospital. For most patients, being in the hospital can be stressful, frustrating, and nerve-wracking because much of their control has been taken away from them. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Using a mobile app, such as EcoStruxure Apps Studio, hospitals can put the control back into their patients’ hands. With a tablet or smartphone, patients can control their room temperature, lighting, and window blinds, access entertainment or patient education portals, order their meals for the day, call the nurse, or even see the noise levels in their room, all from the comfort of their hospital bed. After having a pleasant experience during their hospital stay, patients are more likely to rate the hospital higher on patient satisfaction surveys, such as HCAHPS, refer their friends, or leave positive online reviews.
Using predictive analytics to save money.
Businesses often cut costs through staff and service reduction. But in a healthcare facility, reducing staff can lead to a decline in the quality of patient care. That makes energy and operational efficiencies better cost-cutting choices. Schneider Electric helped a research lab in Boston, Massachusetts put this idea into action. Through EcoStruxure Building Advisor’s diagnostics and reporting, several major HVAC problems were found at the lab, including malfunctioning cooling and heating coil valves. The operations team scheduled repairs by prioritizing the most wasteful leaks first. Repairs resulted in $286,000 in annual savings. The building continues to use Building Advisor to discover faults, accelerate retro-commissioning activities, and automate verification of energy investments.
IoT creates communication pathways between operating systems (HVAC, power, lighting, security) and information systems (data centers, networks), and with that comes opportunities, for improved operational efficiency, patient satisfaction, and safety for all. Want to learn more about how IoT delivers better patient care and optimizes healthcare facility operation?
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