IMPROVING PATIENT CARE
Hyper connected healthcare is fast becoming standard practice within hospitals and care facilities. As technology becomes more advanced and hospital management teams gain better access to information, patients now have better access to accurate treatment.
And recent statistics look to bear this out. Forbes magazine has projected that, by 2020, the healthcare sector’s use of the Internet of Things (IoT) will reach $117bn globally. Just as the IoT gathers a rich variety of information that helps us see how things are used and when, users, in turn, can use the devices in their lives more effectively.
With the Internet of Things on board, hospitals and other healthcare facilities can ensure that their patients receive the very best in treatment. This includes:
- Better access to more accurate data: This ensures that quicker decisions on treatment can be made, and therefore, patients get better treatment when they need it. Based on immediate access to patient vitals and results – care decisions that are better informed, and to ensure the right medication and dosage is prescribed. It can also give healthcare givers the heads-up that there may be risk of a patient downturn before it happens, as they have the evidence coming in to help them maintain health. Once the data gathering process uses RFID tags and readers, it has essentially become automated – meaning that there are fewer human errors present in the system.
- More personalized care: With information coming in all the time, healthcare providers can immediately focus their attention more on the patients who need urgent medical care at the time they need it most. Because data is constantly being sent to the centralized system, doctors and nurses can adjust and alter the As a result, patients who are not at immediate risk will no longer feel disturbed by caregivers when they prefer to rest. Additionally, patients also quickly receive the best treatment for their conditions, based on up-to-date data coming into the centralized system.
- Quicker treatment: As patients are given wristbands with RFID chips embedded within, healthcare professionals have quicker access to their information. This comes in two forms: 1) Either as real-time data that comes in within a few seconds of the tag’s signal being read by RFID sensors; 2) Healthcare professionals can simply scan the patient’s wristband and their health records come up within seconds. This means that healthcare professionals spend less time trying to find the information they need to actually treat patients.
- Hand Hygiene and reduced risk of infection from within the hospital context: HAIs are both surprisingly common and one of the top contributors to patient deaths in the US. Although HAI acquisition has been significantly reduced, there are still loopholes.
- IoT at home : With the right devices installed at home, including wearable or static monitoring devices and smartphones – researches can plan how to keep track of drug intake and patient safety. It also shows up any side effects that might come as a result of medications, even if patients don’t report these side effects. Not all patients with chronic diseases require the level of hospital care – but they do still require monitoring of some sort. This is where home environment monitoring comes in – some apps send out alerts to patients who need to keep track of, for instance, diabetes, with items such as smart pill boxes sending through data to the providers that patients are taking their medication. There are also devices such as wireless blood pressure monitors and Bluetooth scales, all of which help patients keep track the easy way and manage chronic diseases.
- Better access to the right equipment : Accessing the right equipment when it’s needed is an issue that particularly large healthcare facilities face. With so much expensive equipment onsite, if inadequate records of where exactly each piece is stored can mean both that: healthcare professionals do not know where the right equipment is, and therefore they spend much needed time trying to find it; and hospitals unnecessarily overspend on extra equipment that isn’t needed. With RFID tracking on hand, the nearest available piece of equipment can be found and retrieved within minutes, and hospitals can divert funds to where it’s needed most (and this is often towards improving patient care).
- Improved supply management processes : There are two aspects to this, notably: reassigning patients to an underused MRI scan so that they receive the same scans, rather than one that is over used. In the pharmacy, access to the right tracking equipment ensures that the correct amount of drugs can be provided to patients, whilst also ensuring all drugs have not expired.
As the Internet of Things is gradually proving to its users, there is the added benefit of ensuring that hospitals can manage their budgets more effectively. With accurate data coming in, in real-time, management teams can divert finance to the areas where it is needed most, ensuring a more even distribution of treatment and healthcare professional cover.