Sensing the Simple Way to Better Healthcare

Technology can solve complex healthcare problems, whether that be analysing large volumes of genomic data or allowing a specialist to see a 3D image of a beating heart, but sometimes we often overlook the simple, day-to-day tasks where technology is having meaningful impact for patients and healthcare professionals today.

Providing Efficiency in Clinician’s Workflow

I’m seeing a lot of interest and excitement here in China around the Internet of Things in healthcare. Sensors are increasingly being used to not only provide more efficiency in a clinician’s workflow in a hospital setting but also to help those patients who require care in the home to live more independent lives.

A great example in development that I’d like to share is the Intel Edison-based uSleepCare intelligent bed which is able to record a patient’s vital signs such as rate and depth of breathing, heart-rate and HRV without the need for nurse intervention. Movement sensors also help to identify where there may be cause for concern over pressure ulcers or patients may fall out of their bed for example, which may prolong a hospital stay.

Early Identification of Abnormalities

The sensors not only collect data but also use WiFi to transmit that data seamlessly to a cloud platform for analysis which can then be used in a variety of meaningful ways. The most obvious and pressing data use demand is for early identification of abnormalities which can alert nursing staff to the need for human intervention, thus reducing the requirements to have nurses ‘doing the rounds’ which is resource-intensive and costly for providers.

Additionally the archive of data helps clinicians tackle chronic diseases at the patient level, spotting trends where patients may having a worsening or improving condition. This is particularly valuable as devices such as the UsleepCare intelligent bed become available in a homecare setting. Imagine a community nurse being able to prioritise visits to those patients who are showing abnormal signs as recorded by IoT sensors via alerts, all on a mobile device in real-time. This is truly mobile healthcare, delivering the right care where it is needed and when it is needed, with the right information at their fingertips.

Data Collection Bring Efficiencies

And as this sensor technology becomes more prevalent in both the hospital and homecare setting, the data becomes increasingly useful at a population level too. It will assist providers in spotting trends which will in turn help them to become more efficient and allocate resources where appropriate.

All of which ultimately benefits the patient, particularly those with chronic conditions. They will perhaps spend less time in hospital with an improved level of care and be able to spend more time at home, with the confidence that their condition is being monitored by a healthcare professional 24/7.

The Internet of Things is having a rapidly transformative effect on healthcare. Investment by providers in sensor technology such as the Intel Edison-based USleepCare intelligent bed is helping to drive efficiency-savings while also having a meaningful impact on patient care. In China we’re already pushing forward with implementation in this area and I look forward to sharing the results in the future.