Why Every Healthcare Device Should be Connected to the Internet of Things
There are myriad “things” that could benefit from having a Wi-Fi Internet connection, enabling access to devices and data anytime and anywhere. Whether it’s a vibration device monitoring commercial building disturbances or irrigation controllers charged with watering acres of plants at a theme park, the Internet of Things (IoT) provides companies with an avenue to improve efficiency, add value, and ultimately make the “things” they manufacture “smart.”
Having the ability to communicate remotely with these devices could even be lifesaving. Consider how the healthcare industry could benefit from an IoT-enabled Wi-Fi device that provides immediate access to a patient’s medical history, monitors the performance of a pacemaker, or ensures medication is taken as prescribed.
Saving Lives and Ensuring Quality through an IoT-Enabled Anti-Tampering and Monitoring Medication Device
One healthcare application that reaps tremendous benefits by being connected to the Internet of Things is pharmaceutical tracking. Drug counterfeiting, environmental conditions, and patient compliance with dosage instructions are all factors that can affect patient outcomes and drug efficacy. With IoT technologies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, doctors, and pharmacists now have the ability to address and track these issues…from the factory to the pharmacy to the patient.
UK-based Eurosoft Systems Ltd. (ESL) has developed an IoT-enabled product called the SMARTpack that offers smart packaging, asset tracking, and counterfeit protection for medication. The device allows end-to-end asset tracking for prescription drugs and provides anti-tampering measures en route from the manufacturer to the patient.
Once the seal is disturbed, the information is relayed electronically in real-time to the cloud management system and the proper checks and balances are put into play. Think about the benefits this offers the manufacturer: reputational risks mitigated and the cost savings reaped of having averted lawsuits. More importantly, however, is the potential life saving benefits this provides patients by receiving the medication they were prescribed – and ensuring the authenticity, quality and appropriate dosage.
How ESL Successfully Launched the SMARTpack
Although many healthcare companies can imagine the benefits of having an IoT-enabled product, some have stalled on implementing a strategy for various reasons. Chief among them is the seemingly daunting complexity of IoT-enablement.
ESL overcame this hurdle by practicing proper planning and first listing the requirements they needed from an IoT solution before researching potential partners:
- Security – Given the confidential nature of healthcare information, ESL required that an IoT-enabled Wi-Fi solution has exceptionally robust encryption, ensuring no one is able to decipher the protocol.
- Flexibility – The technology needed to be flexible for commissioning over-the-air updates securely.
- Simple to Deploy – In order to speed time-to-market the solution needed to be a cost-effective plug-n-play IoT-enabled Wi-Fi solution.
- Easy to Use – The fact that patients and their caregivers would be using SMARTpack meant it had to be very easy to use.
Once ESL determined their requirements, they were then in a position to proceed with procuring the best IoT solution. After researching several providers and their IoT offerings, they ultimately selected the Lantronix xPico Wi-Fi for its simplified implementation, secure Wi-Fi connectivity, and ease of use.
IoT-Enablement Addresses Key Healthcare Issues
The possibilities of IoT in the healthcare industry appear to be many – from tying existing medical devices into a common, secure network to improving safety and monitoring issues, like pharmaceutical tampering. The SMARTpack is just an example how IoT-enablement is providing cost saving benefits by ensuring the right medication is getting delivered to the hands of those that need it.
Healthcare companies at the doorstep of developing an IoT-enabled device need to keep in mind that proper planning and due diligence, especially choosing an IoT solutions partner that not only meets the specification but more importantly, simplifies implementation – are critical for a successful launch.