Ten reasons health organizations need a strategy for the Internet of Things now

05 August 2014 | Neil Jordan, General Manager of Health Worldwide for Microsoft

In the rapidly evolving field of healthcare, the IT trend of connecting disparate systems and devices is creating real efficiencies across the industry. Increasingly, achieving IT interoperability is a goal for health organizations that want to stay competitive and continually improve patient care.

I recently blogged about some new IT innovations – devices and analytics tools – that are helping organizations do just that. These technologies are part of the Internet of Things (IoT), essentially creating solutions that harness and integrate data streams to provide better access to more meaningful data across the organization – at the bedside, in the OR, the pharmacy and more. One of my favorite recent examples of this is at Great River Medical Center. The hospital created an automated end-to-end medication management system, connecting devices to backend data systems that manage inventory, medical and billing records. The solution is so successful it has cut the time patients spend waiting for medication in half. That’s IoT technology at its best—making real-life impact.

Susan Hauser, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of the Enterprise and Partner Group, recently wrote about the critical need for businesses broadly to implement an IoT strategy. In that spirit, here are some highlights of our “top ten” list specific to health organizations:

  1. Get a jump-start on clinical innovation. Cut in-patient medication delivery time by two-thirds. Give doctors and nurses access to patient records in a fraction of the time. Use connected instruments and imaging to train more physicians in leading surgical techniques. Microsoft customers are already taking advantage of IoT by connecting their devices to create new insights from data that help them transform their business.
  2. Get more out of your existing IT assets. You don’t need to abandon the electronic health records [EHR] system you already use. Start with your existing IT assets and connect them to better leverage the data they generate. Then add a few new devices, connect them to the cloud, and enable them to “talk” to each other, to your caregivers and your patients. Transform your business by analyzing the data those devices generate to gain deeper insight into what your patients and employees want and need.
  3. Enable small changes to make a big impact. Start by identifying the one process, department or clinic location that matters most to you, then make small changes for big impact. Implement a single sign-on system to give clinicians access to all their medical apps with one tap of a badge. Add expiration dates to the data set for pharmacy inventory and save thousands of dollars in wasted medications. Connect an imaging device to the hospital network to more easily relay image files to the patient’s record. The Internet of Things doesn’t have to be overwhelming — a few key improvements can make a big difference.

Read the full “top ten” list here, and check out Microsoft’s vision for IoT, and how it can transform operations and patient care in the health industry.

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Neil Jordan
General Manager of Health Worldwide for Microsoft