Remote patient monitoring systems that incorporate IoT tracking devices using active RFID or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) as edge nodes are becoming more common in hospitals, outpatient clinics and healthcare centers. Such systems might also include equipment tracking as well as personnel location.
Patient Psychology Directly Related to Patient Outcome
It is well-documented in hospital and healthcare centers that the psychology of the patient is directly correlated to patient well-being. Well-being can be influenced by the patient experience when visiting a healthcare facility for service, particularly when that service is a surgery or outpatient procedure. New research has shown that patient psychology during pre-surgery proceedings can have an impact on both short and long-term patient outcomes. Patient re-admittance for complications or additional surgery is costly to the healthcare facility from a revenue and reputation standpoint.
There is a very real need for assessment and remote patient monitoring after check-in, during their experiences leading up to entering the operating room for the procedure, and more commonly lately, after the return home. In a busy hospital or outpatient environment, incidences can occur that impact the patient and can raise anxiety. Unlike many other services that a hospital or outpatient clinic might offer, during pre-op charge of the patient often passes through multiple departments. Poor or casual intra-department communications at this time can lead to misunderstandings. Patients are routed incorrectly, and wind up traversing the same space more than once. They can be left in areas not designed to accommodate them, such as hallways. Bottlenecks in the traffic flow can stack patients up waiting behind other patients for service. These and other preventable issues cause patients to believe that their circumstances at this traumatic time are not controlled. Anxiety increases, and the new research shows that as a result, patient outcomes can be impacted, which affects reputation and revenue for the facility.
Remote Patient Monitoring and Tracking Stabilizes the Patient Experience
Smart personal identification tags operating in a real-time patient flow monitoring network can be essential in imbuing the patient with the sense that all is well and under control. Active RFID or BLE devices can be affixed to the patient’s wrist instead of the standard ID bracelet. These transmit the patient’s identification and in many cases the patient’s GPS location to the local network. Network monitors can notify affected personnel when a patient moves, or the system can be programmed to do that automatically. Patient records can be called up on monitors and devices in a patient’s new location, and removed from monitors and devices in the patient’s old one. In many situations medical and service personnel can wear similar devices that allows the system to locate them and route them to an assignment. Service personnel can be notified when a room is vacant and available for cleaning, so the next patient does not have to wait. Medical personnel can be separately dispatched so that they are on-site when the patient arrives at their location, or sent to intervene if a patient waits too long in transit, or becomes part of a bottleneck. The system might also incorporate asset tracking, tagging mobility appliances and monitoring equipment and managing them so that they are in the right location and ready for use when needed. Supported by a comprehensive monitoring/management plan, the system can present each patient with a seamless and smoothly operating environment where their expectations are set and then clearly met.
These networks can produce a great deal of data, which can be collected and utilized for Internet of Things (IoT) type applications that make predictions, provide post-analysis of events and suggest modifications for better efficiency. They can also be modified to interface with an event broker/monitor, which can trigger alerts in the event of a patient emergency or notify appropriate support personnel if a critical piece of equipment is failing. They can be further modified to support mass-casualty situations, where patients at the scene of the incident are tagged on-site by EMS personnel prior to transport. The hospital potentially could have an accurate picture of how many patients are in route, their injury status, and possibly their health history, a huge advantage in trauma care.
The propagation of IoT applications into healthcare has lagged other industry sectors, because while healthcare facilities prioritize patent care over all else, they must in most cases operate as businesses, and must provide a viable business case for large IT expenditures. With continued research into the patent experience, the obvious advantages of an IoT-based approach to healthcare should become clear.