Globally, we are seeing the gradual adoption of the IoT (Internet of Things) by healthcare providers. Some have instituted connected devices for monitoring patient wellbeing, while others are utilising it for better inventory management and workflow optimisation.
However, implementing the IoT in the Australian Healthcare sector is not without its challenges.
The increasing frequency of cyberattacks and ransomware across the board (often by human error) has staff hesitant to engage, while others have limited understanding of the benefits that connected devices and applications can offer.
The secure integration of the IoT into hospital-wide medical devices and applications – such as insulin pumps, blood pressure machines and even security cameras – is one of the key concerns. Solutions providers need to address these concerns by making regular firmware updates and secure protocols the priority. In-home medical devices also pose a security challenge, while simultaneously broadening the potential success of prevention/management strategies through patient monitoring and intervention.
Leveraging wireless networks to manage hospital traffic (such as staff rostering and movement, tracking and managing bottlenecks in existing systems) can be managed through RFID, although adoption in this space has also been slow, as it can be difficult for organisations to dedicate time and resources to data management and analysis.
This leads us to the other major challenge healthcare providers face – the difficulty of managing multiple platforms, devices, and even vendors. A lack of interoperability across the industry means that even a hospital with an existing set of connected machines/applications might be lacking the time and resources to introduce – let alone manage – a whole new ecosystem.
What has worked effectively for wrist bands and ID badges, for example, will not translate across for delicate and critical medical machinery such as life support systems.
A slow, strategic approach may be the best option for providers, moving forward. Condition prevention strategies, physician-to-patient engagement, and educating key stakeholders about prioritising what data collection best suits their requirements should be the focus.
Are you currently working in the Healthcare sector? Talk to M2M Connectivity to find out how we can assist you and your organisation.