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IoT Connectivity in Hospitals – The Rise of Smart Healthcare

By David Grant

Director of Marketing, Global Vertical Markets

Innovative technology is critical to the healthcare industry, as facility management professionals aim to run their sites as efficiently and effectively as possible. With ever-increasing patient numbers, one way to meet this demand is by embracing Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity when it comes to building technology.

Globally, IoT in healthcare is expected to triple between now and 2024, with key factors including the rising focus of patient engagement and patient-centric care, along with the need for cost-control measures, including enhanced asset management of medical equipment. The advancements of IoT medical technology goes hand in hand with the digital transformation of healthcare buildings.

When developing building infrastructure, hospitals are enabling IoT through various avenues. For example, Honeywell’s Connected Hospital initiative integrates building controls, security, alarm management, nurse-call, real-time location system (RTLS), and more, for intelligent monitoring that enables smoother patient flow and rapid responses. This provides a way of accessing, using and managing large scale data obtained from connected and integrated sub-systems, converged open network architecture, building analytics with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The benefits from this implementation are multiple, with technology-driven business solutions bringing down costs while increasing efficiency and providing an improved patient experience. The real-time gains of IoT mean that facility managers can make informed decisions quickly while medical professionals can improve patient care and deliver results. One example of functioning IoT in hospitals is the Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, Western Australia.

Australia's leading digital hospital

While the Fiona Stanley Hospital was considered a greenfield project, or a completely new project executed from scratch, it faced similar challenges to many brownfield projects, with numerous bespoke systems making holistic monitoring and control over the hospital environment difficult to achieve. Fiona Stanley Hospital spans nine buildings and more than 200,000 square meters – the size of four blocks; no easy task for the facility managers on site. The hospital therefore decided to implement new technology to capitalize on a holistic, connected and integrated system.

Fiona Stanley Hospital worked with Honeywell to apply IoT technology that integrates 65 individual systems with 150,000 data points on a unified platform, as well as connects more than 1,000 card readers, 350 CCTV cameras and 200 intercoms. This has created a single common user interface for monitoring and control, graphics, reporting, energy, alarm management as well as trend analysis. Building analytics and digital maintenance were introduced to improve energy and asset performance. With the recent Command Wall (site management and monitoring system) implementation, onsite security (including intrusion detection, CCTV, access control, and intercom) and operations management capability has been enhanced, which is a further demonstration of the benefits of a connected and integrated ICT hospital system.

Integrated building system

The complexity of hospital networks, both in terms of the number of medical spaces and the types of services and systems included, requires a standardized technology approach. Beginning with an integrated building management system as the foundation, a hospital can gain a detailed look into system performance to help maintain optimal environments. The ideal system effectively uses the connectivity of today’s buildings, providing a clear solution for facility managers to turn hospital building data into actionable insights.

For example, hospital’s facility managers can layer on applications such as preventative analytics, averting downtime and avoiding negative impacts to the patient experience, or deliver energy-efficient outcomes in real time, such as lowering the air conditioning in an unoccupied room or for monitoring the refrigerated temperature of oncology drugs.

What’s more, with a standardized approach in place, the system can communicate with normal protocols and integrate additional technologies, including those across multiple facilities. This means that hospitals can evolve without needing to replace their systems, but rather make the transition over time, in-step with budgets and future planning.

Cloud-connected service

Taking advantage of IoT connectivity is possible when a hospital is equipped to capture and analyze the sizable amount of data that today’s modern building technologies generate. Cloud-connected applications, including service and maintenance efforts, enable hospitals to utilize different sensors and endpoints in a building.

Combining the connectivity of smart buildings with automation and data analytics, the facility manager is easily able to create a unique overview of the healthcare site and can intervene before outages occur.  As technology continues to change, IoT has a significant role to play in ensuring connectivity and real-time analytics are at the fingertips of healthcare operations teams, allowing for meaningful change across the board. Learn more about how to implement IoT solutions specific to your organization’s needs.