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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Is the IoT Infiltrating the Healthcare Industry?

November 14, 2017 No Comments

The internet of things (IoT) is infiltrating the healthcare industry at almost every level and has already begun to transform how doctors and patients interact with each other. Technologies like remote monitoring, artificial intelligence, video and wearables are presenting new ways for healthcare organizations to collect, analyze and utilize patient data to improve care and efficiency while reducing costs. At the same time, healthcare organizations are implementing new technologies to improve power management capabilities in their facilities, which can have a significant impact on patient care.

  • Q. What are some of the challenges impacting healthcare organizations today?

A. Healthcare facilities today face many challenges. They must deliver high quality patient care, while maintaining operational efficiency, improving security and ensuring patient safety and satisfaction. They must do all of this while also complying with strict regulations and health and safety measures. Healthcare executives and facility managers must control operating costs, find ways to reduce energy waste and implement sustainability strategies for the facilities they operate and serve. Plus, with the number of people aged 60 or older expected to double by 2050, there is higher demand for clinical care, which places additional demand on operations that already function within confined budgets, aging infrastructures and rising maintenance costs.

  • Q. Most industries today are transforming operations using advanced technologies like IoT. How specifically are these technologies transforming healthcare?

A. IoT holds the power to transform how buildings are operated and managed and is gaining traction as one of the top technologies healthcare facilities can use to meet their power needs. Executives running facilities from large hospitals to outpatient clinics and assisted living centers are implementing IoT at every level to improve how they build and maintain their power infrastructure, which can directly impact an organization’s financial performance. Temperature sensors, power meters, circuit breakers, smart electrical equipment and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) devices are just some of the IoT-enabled devices available for use in healthcare facilities. When coupled with software and analytics as part of a holistic, intelligent solution, healthcare facilities are better equipped to track their energy use, reduce energy costs, monitor equipment performance, improve predictive maintenance and ensure power availability.

  • Q. How does the health of a facility’s power management system affect the health and safety of patients?

A. When power outages pose a grave danger to patient lives, uninterrupted access to power is critical to ensure all functions across a facility run smoothly. Power failure puts patients and staff at risk and can be damaging to a facility’s reputation and bottom line.

Facility and operations managers in hospitals are responsible for different scales, ages and infrastructure components, variables that make operations difficult to manage. Facility managers are invested in supplying consistent, reliable power across their facility. When 25 percent of a hospital’s operating cost is energy related, it is imperative that power management systems are fully available, consistently reliable and operate efficiently. At the same time, facility managers recognize reliable power is critical to patient care. IoT-enabled solutions can provide greater visibility into the operation and performance of power equipment, power quality and energy efficiency. With IoT, legacy power systems can be augmented to provide additional functionality. For example, IoT-enabled devices can improve predictive maintenance by monitoring power equipment for quality and asset status, and provide facility personnel with notifications if a problem is detected. Staff can proactively address issues before patients and hospital staff are affected.

  • Q. How can healthcare facilities improve their power distribution infrastructure?

A. While we’ve discussed the need for healthcare facilities to use advanced technology to improve patient care, this can only come to fruition if leaders take a connected approach to power system management to yield a decrease in operating expenses, improved staff productivity and reduced complexity.

Power management systems need to be granular, connected and integrated to be fully valuable to the entire healthcare facility management operation. But this approach doesn’t require a full overhaul on existing systems. Instead, facility managers can install solutions like smart electrical panels, connected power metering devices or power monitoring software to ensure their operations are being carefully monitored and corrected when issues arise. Building a connected and smart infrastructure means a facility can be monitored and controlled to improve energy and operational efficiency through more reliable and efficient power systems, enhance patient experience by providing them with a comfortable, healing environment and increase staff productivity by providing the right information to the right person when and where they need it.

  • Q. How is Schneider Electric working with healthcare facilities to deploy technologies within power management systems to benefit patients and facilities alike?

A. Schneider Electric works with healthcare facilities across the country to make systems smarter with the implementation of advanced digital technologies including apps and analytics, edge control and connected products. Whether it be for a facility’s power management system, building management system, security system or IT infrastructure, we help improve patient safety and satisfaction, while ensuring the financial health and efficiency of a facility’s operations.

For example, we recently worked with a large university medical center to ensure the building performs to the highest order to provide medicine to the highest order. We worked with the facility’s facility management team to identify which equipment needed upgrading, retrofitting or replacing before failures could occur. We connected the medical center’s electrical distribution assets to the cloud to ensure staff had advanced knowledge of potential problems and had the right data to deploy resources efficiently to avoid equipment failure. Equipped with predictive, condition-based monitoring, the medical center saved nearly $1 million, a 20 to one return on investment.

Technology provides healthcare facilities with the ability to detect, diagnose, correct and restore power issues, which protects people – both patients and personnel – by monitoring installation temperatures to prevent electrical fires, improve operational efficiency by continually identifying areas to decrease consumption, and shift from preventative to predictive maintenance. With these smart, connected systems in place, healthcare facilities can not only improve their operations, they can improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.

 Mohamed Shishani

Mohamed Shishani is the EcoStruxure Power manager at Schneider Electric.  In his 10 years with the company, he has held positions such as senior low voltage product specialist- circuit breakers, OEM business development specialist, and project manager. In his current role, Mohamed introduced new IOT technologies to the market in the area of electrical distribution systems. Mohamed holds an MBA in general management and international business from Concordia University-Wisconsin and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology.


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