Connected healthcare is finally becoming a reality.
In fact, it’s estimated that the global healthcare sector will pour about $410 billion into IoT devices, services, and software in 2022, according to a report from the research firm Grand View Research. That’s up from up from the $58.9 billion invested in 2014, according to the same report.
Why are healthcare organisations beginning to embrace the technology? Well, for starters, it’s because there’s more demand than ever to make healthcare more efficient and effective. And a lot of this demand stems from rising healthcare costs and regulations, Greg Petroff, GE’s chief experience officer for digital, told Business Insider.
For example, the Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2012 implemented a penalty for hospitals that have high readmission rates. This means hospitals have to make sure their patients are in a stable condition before they leave so they don’t return. But it also means that hospitals are having to do more with the same amount of resources.
To help meet these new demands, hospitals are using IOT solutions to capture and analyse data that enables hospital operators to make smarter decisions that can help save money and lives, Petroff said.
“There are a host of things in a healthcare environment that are managed on a daily basis. This includes medical equipment, employees, and patients,” Petroff said. “In that environment we can use these technologies … to determine how to improve the quality of care, time to service, and to provide care with less costs.”
One way GE has helped hospitals accomplish this is by bringing medical equipment online.
For example, GE partnered with a hospital in New York to connect and track hospital beds using sensors. These sensors enabled hospital operators to tell when a bed was free and helped reduce emergency room wait times by as much as four hours, Petroff said.
And by connecting medical equipment, hospitals can greatly reduce the chances of critical machinery breaking down when it’s needed most.
Philips Healthcare, for example, recently rolled out an IOT solution called e-Alert, which is a hardware/software solution, that virtually monitors the health of its machines so that they never suffer an outage.
“We want to make it to the point where Philips has zero downtime. So our systems are operational all the time and are running at peak performance,” John Romero, a support specialist at Philips Healthcare, told Business Insider.
When Philip’s e-Alert system detects that something is working abnormally in the machine, it sends a text message to an engineer so that repairs can be made before serious damage is done. The e-Alert system is working so well that Philips is exploring using the technology for other pieces of medical machinery.
While e-Alert is helping hospitals and other healthcare providers avoid expensive repairs and replacements, it more importantly is helping ensure patients are getting the care they need when they need it, Romero said.
“It’s (IOT) all about real-time monitoring,” Romero said. “And I really think in the end as healthcare providers and hospitals, we really need to put our patients at the center of all of our thinking.”
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