How is the Internet of Things empowering staff and improving patient care?


By Mark Verbloot
Monday, 26 June, 2017



How is the Internet of Things empowering staff and improving patient care?

Mark Verbloot, director of systems engineering, Aruba, joins us to reflect on an industry where physicians, nurses, administrators, patients, visitors and medical devices are all constantly requiring access to a dependable enterprise network and how mobility is redefining the healthcare space.

Visualise receiving turn-by-turn directions on a mobile device as you move through the hospital, leading straight to your patient’s room. Upon entering, secure patient data becomes available, providing access to critical medical records required to treat your patient. These are the current capabilities of well-integrated healthcare providers.

Forbes reported that by 2020, the healthcare Internet of Things (IoT) market segment is expected to hit $117 billion, globally. IoT refers to the ability for ‘things’ to connect to the internet. By giving objects the ability to link to the web, rich information is gathered about how these things are used, so individuals can ensure optimum efficiency. For instance, IoT allows hospitals to monitor and keep track of the location of medical devices, personnel and patients. When a hospital utilises ‘smart beds’, for example, staff can detect when they are occupied and when a patient is attempting to get up.

With healthcare sites heavily reliant on technology, IoT will continue to shape the way machines cooperate to enhance the ability for medical staff to gather information quickly and make the right decisions when treating patients. Within the hospital setting, point-of-care devices, electronic medical records and telehealth diagnostics are just a few digital technologies requiring a secure connection to share and integrate information from multiple sources.

As a healthcare professional, security and privacy of patient data needs to be a top priority. The bring your own device (BYOD) trend, can be seen as a risk to a secure perimeter. However, technology is quickly being realised as the enabler to ensure the safekeeping of highly confidential data. A mobility network that is smart enough to classify and understand the behaviour of IoT devices automatically is fundamental in reducing the apprehension associated with BYOD.

Medical devices connected to a reliable network infrastructure ensure consistent transmission of information. Reliable, live monitoring of patients and hospital equipment, which can send alerts quickly to medical staff anywhere, allows healthcare professionals to be on top of any issues before they arise. Alerts and updates can be sent directly to a practitioner’s mobile device, giving them real-time information needed to care for their patient.

With access to Wi-Fi an expected amenity, and the desire for connectivity a common request, it’s not only important for staff and clinicians to have access to a network infrastructure, but patients and visitors too. An enterprise network that classifies all devices and defines smart policies based on device type, ownership status and or operating system will allow a healthcare site to prioritise critical-care systems, while ensuring that patients and guests enjoy a first-rate healthcare experience. By doing so, visitors and patients have access to entertainment and communication options throughout the facility, without interfering with medical devices.

A hospital-wide network that allows multiple devices to connect seamlessly, all at once, will empower medical staff, improve patient care and deliver a more meaningful and positive experience for all users.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/s4svisuals

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