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Emerging IoT technologies in healthcare

SearchHealthIT visited Stanley Healthcare's Experience Center in Waltham, Mass., which has simulated hospital rooms -- such as the emergency department, post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and medical-surgical intensive care unit -- for the company to demonstrate its Internet of Things (IoT) offerings.

In this video, Joel Cook, senior healthcare solutions director at Stanley Healthcare, described the ways in which many of Stanley's customers use IoT in healthcare. For example, hospitals take advantage of the technology for real-time location services with badges that can track patients, staff and medical devices. "Many of our customers are using this equipment for asset management," Cook said. Such assets include infusion pumps, wheelchairs, defibrillators, scales and other items that employees tend to tuck into out-of-sight corners yet are needed frequently for treating patients.

Another area in which many of Stanley's customers look to IoT in healthcare is patient flow.

With Internet of Things devices, clinicians "in the PACU ... can see what's going on in the ORs, where they are in the case, and can therefore interpret when people are going to arrive in PACU," Cook explained. "And likewise, people up on the med-surg floor can see what's going on in PACU" and prepare for new patient arrivals.

In addition to real-time location services, Stanley's IoT devices also help with environmental monitoring -- for example, checking the temperatures of refrigerators or IT closets -- and hand hygiene compliance.

In North America, the lack of hand hygiene in hospitals has been a longtime problem. Cook said that about 100,000 people die from hospital- or healthcare-related infections in North America every year. Greater hand hygiene can help decrease hospital-acquired illnesses.

As hospitals struggle to lower operating costs and remain competitive, IoT in healthcare may offer a way to tighten budgets and improve a patient's journey through a medical facility. "[Hospitals] have to have better patient experiences, better outcomes for those patients," Cook said. "They have to manage populations of people, and they have to do that as efficiently and effectively as possible."

Let us know what you think about the story and IoT in healthcare; email Kristen Lee, news writer, or find her on Twitter @Kristen_Lee_34.

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