M2M & Internet of Healthcare Things

The Internet of Healthcare Things

Creating a 4G LTE Network Built on Performance

American healthcare is at a crossroads. Barreling down the highway in one direction is the relentless rise of the cost of medical care. In the other direction comes a desire on the part of patients and doctors to use modern medicine to stay healthy, not to get well. The result is a shifting of our understanding of what our national health care system should look like. One thing just about everyone seems to agree on is the critical role that technology is starting to play in transforming our current system to meet both of these objectives. No technology is showing more promise than the intersection of M2M (Machine-to Machine) enabled by 4G LTE.

Technologies that Support the Future of Healthcare

The result is a 'consumerization' and a shifting of our understanding of what our national healthcare system looks like. One thing just about everyone seems to agree on is the critical role that technology is starting to play in transforming our current system to meet both of these objectives.

The main benefits of 4G LTE is mobility, flexibility, and agility which dovetails perfectly with the emerging trend among providers to treat people where people are—at their job, at home, or while shopping, rather than at a central medical office. M2M technology that enables machines to talk directly to each other without human intervention, is automating many of the tasks that normally take valuable time and add to the overall cost of care. The connected devices form the basis for what is coming to be know as the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT).

With advances in secure M2M-IoHT communications, connected devices at any location can capture and everything from a patient’s blood pressure to the results of a retinal eye scan. By taking humans out of the process, M2M-IoHT communication actually helps protect the privacy of patient data. This technology also helps track medical equipment that needs to be mobile. For example, a piece of testing equipment that is used across a large hospital campus. This enables IT departments to know where their equipment is in real-time. M2M-IoHT technologies can also monitor levels on such things as oxygen tanks (and other equipment), then send an alert when levels are low. By automating a process that was manual, organizations are making business operations smarter and more streamlined—saving time and money.

Centralized, Secure Internet Connectivity

Whether treating patients in a mobile clinic, kiosk, or at home, medical professionals need to be able to collect and transmit patient data securely and in compliance with HIPAA (the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act). Small mobile routers running on 4G LTE networks give providers secure, reliable Internet connection they can use to update patient charts, check patient prescriptions, run diagnostic tests, and more—all without having to return to the office.

With many medical professionals using an expanding variety of connected devices, it is essential that hospital IT administrators have the ability to monitor and protect this IoHT flowing across their networks. Managing a network of widely dispersed IoHT devices takes real-time, centralized intelligence. With the proliferation of the cloud and best-in-breed security applications, healthcare IT teams can now be confident to build a centralized, secure M2M-IoHT network.

Begin with Practical, Money-saving Applications

The value that M2M-IoHT and 4G LTE adds to the efficient delivery of healthcare goes beyond patient information. In fact, hospital IT departments contemplating the introduction of these technologies into their workflows should consider starting by implementing applications that are practical and boost the bottom line. Such applications include wireless real-time location systems that save money by quickly locating medical devices within a hospital setting; wearable technology that, by storing the patient’s electronic medical record, reduces the time the provider spends on intake questions; medical device monitoring to check medical devices that need maintenance or supply refills; and check-in kiosks that enable patients to update their medical records, check in for appointments, or get valuable information on treatment plans—all while enabling HIPPA compliance.

Next Up: Expanding & Implementing Mobile Healthcare Enabled by IoHT

The medical profession has traditionally been very conservative in adopting new ways of caring for patients. The watchword for this period of transition in our healthcare delivery system is “lean and mean without sacrificing patient care.” In the next installment on healthcare, we’ll look at some of the specific ways these mobile and IoHT technologies are being utilized by forward thinking organizations.