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How IoT is transforming healthcare – 5 new technologies that help make hospitals more human

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Anton Jooste . DiData Mar 15

Anton Jooste . Director – Internet of Things

Moving from sick-care to health-care through IoT

Few of us look forward to a hospital stay. It’s not only about the anticipation of the pain that we might have to experience from procedures, most of all, we fear poor service delivery. Especially when we’re at our most vulnerable. Hospitals, at the best of times, are not very ‘human’ experiences.

Providing a personalised patient and caregiver experience with a human touch has always been top of the agenda for healthcare providers.But it’s not an easy goal to achieve, given the host of challenges today’s hospitals face – not least of which are a paucity of skills and the sheer numbers of patients who need hospitalisation. Technology can help patients on their journey through the healthcare system, but there’s a long way to go.

The reality today is that 59% of healthcare and pharmaceutical organisations can track customer (read patient) journeys. Just 5% have all their patient contact channels connected (this will increase to 46% within the next two years). This is according to the results of our recently launched 2017 Global Customer Experience (CX) Benchmarking Report.

Analytics was voted the top factor that will transform CX in the next five years. Yet only 27% of organisations collect data on customer journey interaction patterns and only 44% have customer analytics systems available, with 38% having big data analytics.

Top 5 IoT tech your hospital should be using today

Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are now starting to make an impact in healthcare. Central to these technologies are goals to improve patients’ experiences in hospitals, and to make electronic health data and insights more readily available across the care continuum to enable a holistic patient diagnosis.

I’ve summarised below the top technologies that you can expect during your hospital stay today, which will radically transform your experience as a patient:

1.Virtual patient observation

Healthcare providers need to have the ability to provide round-the-clock observation of patients. Especially for patients at risk of injuries such as falls or pulling out tubes. The expense of using patient-sitters is crippling – not only for the healthcare provider, but also for the patient’s family.

HD video and two-way communication is a new way of providing virtual patient observation. Trained staff monitor multiple patients from a central location. Staff are notified just as quickly as if they were present with the patient.

Virtual patient observation solutions can also be of immense value in the neonatal intensive care unit, where babies’ conditions change by the minute. Physicians can remotely monitor babies and even evaluate them with the assistance of a bedside clinician.

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Dimension Data’s virtual patient observation solution personalises the patient’s experience

2.Patient presence sensors

Major strides in IoT tech are being made in fall monitors. Traditional fall monitors mean that patients sit on a pad and an alarm is raised when dangerous movement occurs. The new patient presence sensors on the market continuously provide data to administrators and turn it into valuable information. Administrators are alerted even before a patient is at risk of a fall. Best of all, patients aren’t connected to any wires or attached to any sensors.

3.Wearable technologies

Abductions of babies from hospitals are a grim reality, and it can happen in different areas: from the nursery to the maternity ward. Mother and infant ID bracelets are subject to human error, and even the best-trained staff can lose track of patients’ movements. Modern infant and mothers’ tags are linked to the hospital’s Wi-Fi infrastructure and can locate the infant or mother anywhere within range.

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Infants wearing monitoring tags can be located anywhere within Wi-fi range

Wearable staff badges can also improve the safety of hospital staff. Badges for hospital staff linked to the facility’s Wi-fi can instantly alert security of their exact location if they’re under duress. For example, psychiatrists could alert security if they need help. When an alarm is raised, the badges use the hospital’s existing Wi-Fi network to identify both the sender’s identity and exact location.

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Wearable tags for staff decrease injury in case of duress

4.Asset tracking

Hospitals often face the frustration of looking for available wheelchairs or hospital beds. By placing RFT tags on assets – from high-value medical equipment to low-cost items such as linen – hospitals can easily track and locate critical assets. The RFT tags are linked to the hospital’s Wi-Fi network and personnel can analyse historical usage patterns so that assets can be deployed where they are typically needed most.

5.Sensors to monitor temperature and humidity

Monitoring temperature-controlled tissue and blood products, vaccines and other vital medications are critical in a healthcare facility. Failure to detect unforeseen events can lead to monetary loss, or worse, administration of comprised medicines to patients.

Hospitals are obligated under compliance regulations and federal medication management standards, specifically The Joint Commission (TJC), to monitor refrigerators, freezers, and other temperature-controlled storage areas.

Today’s intelligent solutions provide fully wireless monitoring and alerts for temperature and humidity. Administrators are immediately notified of a temperature deviation and can attempt to rectify the issue and prevent losses.

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Fully automated wireless monitoring and alerts for temperature and humidity conditions

‘Smart’ hospitals provide differentiated patient-care

When I think of how IoT technologies are disrupting the healthcare industry, I always like to tell the story of our client, ISPPC. This hospital group is truly the epitome of success in terms of what healthcare providers can achieve with IoT technologies today: a hyperconnected healthcare hub.

Watch this video to see how ISPPC has established a ‘smart’ hospital group to improve the patient and caregiver experience and move from providing sick-care to health-care.

Believe in Greatness

You can also learn more about the ISPPC story by visiting this web page.