Exploring the Convergence of the IoT and Patient Safety

The growth and explosion of IoT technology in the past few years has been astonishing. And while we often discuss the impact technology and consumer products can have, it has an equally profound impact in health care – especially when it comes to patient safety.

6 ways IoT is impacting patient safety
To most people, IoT seems like something far-fetched that could have an impact down the road. The word is used so often that it has almost become a cliché.

But IoT is not just another futuristic technology with theoretical application. If you study the health care system that is developing today, you will find that it has been the catalyst for many innovations and developments that have taken place in the last one or two years.

In particular, IoT and connected devices are positively impacting patient safety in healthcare. Here are some typical methods:

1. Adverse Event Reporting
The healthcare industry is overwhelmed by rules, laws, regulations, and insurance. Hospitals and care providers are reluctant to talk about issues, mistakes and errors for fear that they will be hit with fines, fees and lawsuits.

Yet proper reporting is one of the only ways to prevent the use of dangerous pharmaceuticals and defective products. This is where fully integrated IoT platforms come into play.

Advanced medical device platforms are giving healthcare teams real-time access to critical patient information and outcomes for the first time.

This allows them to make better-informed decisions in the moment, as opposed to waiting for test results. With predictive analysis, doctors can make proactive decisions about potential adverse outcomes or complications before signs and symptoms emerge.

Better adverse event reporting benefits both patients and doctors. It helps patients by reducing the chances of complications and by offering more immediate and longer lasting solutions. It benefits doctors by eliminating legal mistakes that can potentially lead to negative consequences and/or lawsuits.

2. Training and Education
Whenever you train someone in a technical field, the gap between theoretical knowledge and experiential understanding must be bridged.

A person may be trained and educated for years, but unless that person is put into real-world experience, there is no guarantee that they will be able to execute it. This situation is being played continuously in the health world.

Medical schools and health care training programs are seeking new and better ways to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and real-world experience without risking patient safety. This struggle has been going on for years.

But recently we have seen how advances in training and simulation technology can efficiently bridge the divide.

For example, companies such as Intelligent Video Solutions use real-time video recording solutions to record training sessions and provide immediate feedback that medical students can use to improve and optimize between sessions.

The videos can then be archived and filed systematically into an advanced video library for future review and analysis. This type of real-time feedback speeds up training and better prepares participants to step into real-world situations with real patients.

3. Remote Monitoring
It is unrealistic for patients to be under direct observation round the clock and not economically feasible. Once a patient is stable and comfortable enough to return home, a hospital stay is no longer practical.

This would be a waste of money and man-hours – both of which are precious commodities in today’s healthcare industry. But with advances in remote monitoring capabilities, this is no longer a problem.

Connected devices, powered by IoT, are making it possible for doctors and health care teams to accurately monitor vital and other factors of their patients from remote locations. Examples of remote monitoring include:

For patients with a history of heart failure, doctors can send home an Internet-connected scale that transmits data and records key benchmarks. When paired with regular phone calls, this greatly reduces the 30- and 60-day readmissions.

For patients with heart problems, simple wearable devices — such as fitness trackers — can send heart rate data in real time to doctors. When combined with patient-specific information, doctors can set up systems that inform them of alarming trends that indicate an increased risk for cardiovascular complications.

Believe it or not, there are now “smart pills” with embedded sensors that tell doctors when a medicine has been taken. It can then track pill activity so patients can get the most out of each drug they take.

It is impossible for doctors to be in multiple places at once, but advances in remote monitoring technology have made health teams more flexible than ever.

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