As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, hospitals and medical care providers are still preparing for months of being slammed with new patients. This requires innovative steps to reduce costs while maintaining high-quality care.
One way hospitals are attempting to cut costs is through greater use of the Internet of Things (IoT). Smarter devices improve efficiency. They help machines run more efficiently, automate processes like patient communication and vital-signs monitoring, and assist hospital staff in managing more patients at the same time.
According to projections from Analysys Mason Group, the total number of IoT connections across the globe will reach 5.3 billion by 2028. And forecasts from Kagan show that IoT revenue within hospitals in the U.S. will grow to $319.3 million in 2024, largely due to the urgency that COVID-19 is bringing to hospitals to update their practices.
The global pandemic is creating a greater need for these technologies within hospitals. And adopting the IoT on a broader scale will bring many benefits to healthcare organizations.
IoT devices are now ubiquitous in hospitals and have a range of uses. These devices can act as sensors that communicate with other connected devices. Patient and other hospital data are instantly transferred, analyzed, and used. Because security issues are a significant consideration for hospitals, all of this activity must be able to take place on an extensive, well-secured internal hospital network.
The COVID019 pandemic is highlighting the need for hospitals to speed up the rate at which they’re incorporating IoT devices and practices. Patients’ vitals can be instantly tracked and communicated, including pulse and blood pressure. IoT devices track these measurements continuously and help nurses and doctors monitor more patients while responding faster. Automation technologies make data gathering and analysis instant.
Another big benefit of using the IoT in congested hospitals is predictive maintenance on vital equipment. Imaging devices such as MRI and X-ray machines need to function reliably to maintain efficiency. When organizations can monitor and predict the functionality of crucial devices—and intervene to maintain them—they can ensure stable uptime. This, of course, saves on repair costs and the expense of outsourcing scans.
The IoT allows hospitals to monitor equipment on the cloud using sensors that detect performance metrics based on set parameters.
Some of the most common IoT devices within hospitals are used to monitor patients. Wearable devices allow for continuous data collection of metrics like temperature, pulse, oxygen levels, and brain activity. IoT devices can monitor treatments as well, including the amount of fluids and medications administered to a patient.
Devices connected to hospital Wi-Fi can record this data into the patient’s electronic medical record automatically, which helps ensure accuracy and speeds up the process for hospital workers. Vital information is saved and easily accessible so that events like nursing shift changes don’t impact patients. Individuals can be monitored more frequently and without human intervention, which is especially important during a pandemic, as it helps protect the health of nurses and doctors.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a tracking system that uses tags and detectors to help hospitals track people and vital devices. Tags are attached to wristbands, name tags, or equipment so that hospital staff can get a better picture of all activity. This high level of tracking allows workers to focus more on patients and less on the movement of equipment or security. Supplies can also be tracked with RFID so that staff is notified when new items are needed.
The benefits of the IoT won’t be realized unless a healthcare organization has a fully functioning Wi-Fi network in place—and one that’s capable of handling a greater load. With more and more devices entering and exiting hospital network boundaries than ever before, network managers must be able to secure IoT equipment and ensure that there’s no network downtime.
To combat the issues that more IoT devices bring to the table, hospitals need a way to reliably monitor their wireless networks, including keeping tabs on the end user’s experience. Wireless Network Monitoring from 7SIGNAL is the solution hospitals need to manage congestion, improve throughput, and expand coverage where and when it’s most necessary.
7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise Wireless Network Monitoring. The 7SIGNAL platform is a cloud-based Wireless Network Monitoring (WNM) solution that continuously troubleshoots the wireless network for performance issues – maximizing network uptime, device connectivity, and network ROI. The platform was designed for the world’s most innovative organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, and government agencies and is currently deployed at Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens, Microsoft, and many others. 7SIGNAL continuously monitors the connectivity of over 4 million global devices. Learn more at www.7signal.com.