Scott Lundstrom, senior industry strategist for healthcare at Opentext, discusses why IoT technology is making it possible to automate the tracking and maintenance of essential medical equipment and how healthcare providers can achieve clinical improvements and significant cost savings by managing medical devices with an asset track-and-trace solution
The healthcare IoT sector is predicted to be worth 6billion dollars by 2026
The last decade has been nothing short of transformational for the healthcare industry.
We’ve seen more leaps in medical devices and technology than ever before.
And the necessities of the pandemic were particularly instrumental in accelerating the sector’s digital adoption.
In theory, this is great news for patients and will provide healthcare staff with the necessary tools and resources to offer the best-possible care.
In reality, however, the implementation of these new technologies will likely present the industry with a whole host of new challenges in the short term.
An organisation’s tech stack exists in a delicate state, with each element ideally working in harmony with one another.
But, facing issues such as those experienced in the pandemic, organisations often have to adopt new solutions and technologies.
Despite being added to solve a problem, each new piece of technology further muddies an organisation’s view of its operations and confuses its tech stack.
The implementation of these new technologies will likely present the industry with a whole host of new challenges in the short term
While a bloated tech stack will be problematic, regardless of sector; the healthcare industry is particularly at risk given the consequences if something goes wrong.
It’s no secret that managing thousands of medical devices that deliver patient care every day is a daunting and difficult task.
The good news is that IoT is here to save the day.
The adoption of IoT technology within medical devices can significantly relieve some of the pressure on healthcare providers.
In fact, healthcare devices represent one of the fastest-growing sectors in the IoT market, with the sector – sometimes called the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) – predicted to reach $176billion dollars by 2026.
But, why exactly is the sector growing quite so rapidly?
A big motivator is that IoT technology is able to introduce entirely-new capabilities to the devices in use.
Not only can they reduce costs and risk, but they can also drive innovation and expand what’s possible.
Specifically, IoT technology is making it possible to automate the tracking and maintenance of essential medical equipment. This includes anything from hospital beds to heart monitors and is able to significantly improve asset management performance.
On the surface, managing these assets might not seem like a problem as the questions around asset performance are relatively simple – what medical equipment do we have? Where are those devices? How are the devices being used and how are they performing? Do any medical devices need to be repaired, replaced, or retired?
While a bloated tech stack will be problematic, regardless of sector; the healthcare industry is particularly at risk given the consequences if something goes wrong
While the questions are basic, gaining visibility of the associated medical devices may not be as easy.
Transforming asset management and operations with IoT can significantly accelerate efforts by the healthcare provider to overcome traditional challenges associated with track and trace.
The possibilities of this tech are widespread and can help improve anything from inventory management and asset tracking, utilisation, and performance to end-to-end visibility and supply chain management.
But, despite the well-documented benefits of this technology, in many cases, healthcare organisations are too set in their ways.
Often it comes down to a lack of awareness and education on the subject.
We find that providers are often still using traditional and more-manual approaches to work, such as visual inspections to monitor the performance or status of an asset. In some cases, they might simply be unaware of how time consuming and labour intensive it can be compared to new methods.
While new medtech developments are being introduced to the sector thick and fast, they need to be correctly integrated into the existing tech stack to provide the best-possible medical care.
It’s easy to under utilise assets, without complete visibility and the relevant data pertaining to the performance or status of each one.
Transforming asset management and operations with IoT can significantly accelerate efforts by the healthcare provider to overcome traditional challenges associated with track and trace
Assets frequently fall through the maintenance cracks, ultimately wasting time, increasing unnecessary costs, and leaving the asset vulnerable to damage and theft.
Additionally, it’s difficult to know when an asset needs to be replaced, and as a result, many organisations find themselves with ‘ghost assets’. These are assets that the organisation is still paying for and insuring, long after they have been retired.
The use of an asset track-and-trace solution to manage medical devices enables significant new capabilities, including:
Despite being placed under immense strain, the pandemic drove significant innovation in the medtech sector.
However, we will only see the true benefits of these developments if organisations can make the necessary adjustments and operational changes to manage them.