Time to get industrial about healthcare

Internet of Things (IoT) hesitation in the healthcare vertical stems from the industry’s complexity, as it is chained by liability and privacy issues, a general unease about change, legacy equipment, and unevolved processes. These complexities are all rooted in real concerns of customers and vendors in the healthcare space. However, the “Industrial IoT Analytics for the Healthcare Industry” presentation by Glassbeam employees Gopal Sundaramoorthy and Puneet Pandit at PTC’s LiveWorx event highlighted that it is time to shift how vendors go to market within the healthcare industry.

Sundaramoorthy indicated there are not a lot of high-level analytics, or grand-scheme IoT implementations, in healthcare. The challenges mentioned above, especially privacy issues, including healthcare organizations’ desire to keep data internal, prevent it. Instead, Sundaramoorthy explained vendors need to talk to healthcare organizations like they talk to manufacturers, focusing on how healthcare organizations can connect equipment to improve asset utilization, save costs and increase efficiencies. This is the operational technology (OT) discussion instead of the IT discussion.

With asset utilization, for example, how is a medical scanning device being used? How many scans are being done and in how much time, what types of scans are being done, and when are the scans happening? Or, a conversation around operator utilization could include aspects such as determining whether operators are fully trained by measuring what functions they are using and how long they take compared to average or trained users. Likewise, predictive maintenance, such as noting when a bulb needs to be replaced in an MRI machine, helps avoid costly or dangerous downtime. These simpler-to-implement OT-based measurements will help hospitals run more efficiently and save money just through connecting machines and adding straightforward analytics. It also helps medical device manufacturers better understand why things are going wrong and how to best improve diagnostic time, shorten repair time and relieve frustration for medical professionals.

Sundaramoorthy indicated that simple connectivity is healthcare’s biggest problem. To break the hesitation barrier, vendors should focus on solving the first step in IoT: connecting the often woefully out-of-date machinery and building in IoT, in the spirit of OT, to prove ROI to medical organizations. After machines are connected and OT-based IoT is proving consistent ROI, the discussion to move to more transformative IT use cases will be a much easier sell.

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