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Q&A: IoT for healthcare: Capitalize on the data-driven world

IoT promises to make an impact that both drives clinical and financial benefits in the healthcare industry beyond consumer wearables.
By Verizon
01:26 PM
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Thomas P. Villa, head of enterprise product management & business development, enterprise productions, Verizon, discusses how the Internet of Things (IoT) can have a greater impact in the healthcare industry beyond consumer wearables. Villa, who serves in business development/product roles for the Enterprise New Product Development (IOT) organization, Education Vertical, Verizon Application Store, and the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL), highlights the various areas in healthcare where IoT promises to make an impact that both drives clinical and financial benefits.

Why is capturing and managing data so important in the healthcare industry?

When you talk to companies in healthcare, the same four issues jump out at you, and each of them relate to capturing and managing data. Of course, as it should, everything begins with patient safety and care. But running a close second is the need for hospitals to reduce operational costs and be more efficient. The next key challenge is how to increase productivity of staff and efficiently utilize assets. Lastly, there is the need to be in compliance with government regulations. It’s pretty clear, that in healthcare, whether it’s data related to patients, staff or hospital assets, or asset tracking data of medications through the supply chain, it’s all important.

What is the untapped opportunity in healthcare as it relates to the Internet of Things?

When people think about IoT and healthcare, they might first (and only) think about the popular wearables such as fitness trackers, smart hearing aids, and blood pressure monitors. But, it’s clear that the IoT opportunity in healthcare is much broader and more far-reaching. Even now, some of the hesitancy of payers and providers usually starts and ends with HIPAA compliance and maintaining patient confidentiality. One area of great IoT potential in healthcare is in the tracking of drugs and medications from the pharmaceutical manufacturer to the dispensers, hospitals, etc. With ongoing challenges of loss and theft of drugs and medications in transit, and the need to track this type of sensitive cargo down to the unit level, the ability to track assets and to respond proactively before there are issues becomes more than necessary. One ideal IoT Healthcare solution might provide pharmaceutical manufacturers with effective ways to track and manage assets, support compliance with regulations and assist large facilities with more efficient managing of their assets, and personnel.

What is the role of government regulations when it comes to IoT Healthcare?

Like HIPAA, a major area of compliance is in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Whether the Falsified Medicines Directive (EU) or the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (US), manufacturers, reseller and wholesalers will be required to be even more diligent in regards to tracking and verifying prescription drugs through the Chain of Custody. Any player in this space will be mandated to comply or face stiff fines and other penalties. It seems clear to me that IoT might be the most effective way to help address those needs.

What is Verizon Intelligent Track and Trace and why is it so critical to Healthcare?

Verizon Intelligent Track and Trace gives healthcare and pharmaceutical companies a way to reliably and efficiently address asset tracking and asset management that can have a big impact on their bottom line. The three features of the Verizon Intelligent Track and Trace platform help address many of these needs. The Serialization & Traceability component affords effective supply chain and inventory management via RFID, barcode and cloud services to monitor and track products. The second element, Cold Chain, monitors temperature and location of shipments via sensors and the Verizon 4G LTE network. Verizon will distinguish itself even further when it will soon offer the ability to seamlessly integrate Serialization and Cold Chain on one platform. Intelligent Hospital, the third feature on the Intelligent Track and Trace platform, enables hospitals and companies to monitor equipment and assets through in-building Wi-Fi access. This solution also presents a tremendous opportunity for healthcare-related facilities such as medical schools to track equipment assets, better manage staff work flow, etc.

What is it about Intelligent Hospital, on the Intelligent Track and Trace platform that especially makes it such a deal changer?

Hospitals have long been faced with ongoing challenges of lost or stolen equipment, low utilization of that equipment and inefficient management of staff workflow and patient care. The third feature of Verizon Intelligent Track and Trace – Intelligent Hospital – helps hospitals address these concerns so critical to their bottom line. Bluetooth Low Energy beacons, a Wi-Fi infrastructure and cloud-hosted software, provide real-time location data to help improve workflow efficiencies, control capital expenditures and reduce equipment loss. This solution also helps hospitals more efficiently manage staff workflow and the patient experience by improving personnel utilization/location intra-hospital.

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