The key to creating future-ready hospitals

28-Feb-2022

We speak to Kas Mohammed, vice president of digital energy at Schneider Electric, about the role of Internet of Things (IoT) enabled solutions in unlocking a more-resilient, future-proof NHS

Internet of Things-enabled devices can help to support estates and facilities teams to futureproof services

Internet of Things-enabled devices can help to support estates and facilities teams to futureproof services

Over the past two years, several factors have contributed to the immense pressure the UK’s National Health Service has been under.

Ranging from an aging population and an increasing backlog of maintenance to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system has found itself in challenging times.

And it is through the hard work of doctors, nurses, and administrative staff that patients have continued to be cared for. But facilities are also crucial in this process.

Healthcare estates and facility managers play a vital role in ensuring hospital buildings and equipment are operating correctly, to guarantee quality care and safety for all patients and staff.

The challenges presented to healthcare facilities have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost 7,000 clinical incidents caused by estates failure were reported across NHS England trusts in the 2020/21 ERIC data, emphasising an aging infrastructure issue.

And some of these challenges can, and are, being addressed by the power of IoT-enabled platforms and solutions.

Healthcare estates and facility managers play a vital role in ensuring hospital buildings and equipment are operating correctly, to guarantee quality care and safety for all patients and staff

In recent years, organisations across multiple industries have harnessed the Internet of Things (IoT) to transform their buildings and infrastructure; for example, in the industrial manufacturing sector with its smart factory solutions.

Yet, in healthcare, the sector that can harness these capabilities to the benefit of millions of people, IoT adoption and understanding is lagging far behind other sectors.

Regulation is often presented as the main cause for the slow adoption of IoT in healthcare.

However, according to Guidehouse Insights’ research report, Global Insights: IoT & the Future of Healthcare, commissioned by Schneider Electric, perceived cost is just as significant a barrier.

In a research report that gathered real-world insights from 600 global healthcare facility executives into IoT investment priorities, it was found that 50% of hospital executives that do not plan to implement IoT over the next 12 months cite payback or ROI as the primary barrier to adoption.

The financial burden on over-stretched medical services is understandable, not only due to the human toll, but also skyrocketing demand for care during COVID-19 .

In recent years, organisations across multiple industries have harnessed the Internet of Things (IoT) to transform their buildings and infrastructure

But the true question is not whether healthcare providers have the funding to implement IoT: it’s whether they can afford to ignore its potential.

The main barriers to the more-widespread adoption of IoT-enabled devices in healthcare settings are payback and return on investment

The main barriers to the more-widespread adoption of IoT-enabled devices in healthcare settings are payback and return on investment

How to apply IoT in healthcare settings

Connectivity is at the core of IoT.

Networks of internet-accessible devices are equipped with software and firmware that collects, stores, and transmits data to other connected devices to enable data-driven decision-making and automate manual and inefficient processes.

IoT-based building management platforms add value to existing intelligent building technologies by delivering new visibility into healthcare facility performance to improve operational efficiency and resiliency while advancing patient care and sustainability targets.

Guidehouse Insights has defined IoT devices in its research report as having two-way data communication, enabling them to send and receive data and embedded control and computation capabilities, which allows for advanced integration into other management, automation, or control systems.

Facility-wide benefits of IoT

IoT-enabled technologies are usually implemented into healthcare facilities to improve their energy efficiency, and the advantages are both significant and far-reaching.

At a practical level, IoT-powered intelligent patient room technology can increase and improve the control patients have over room settings like lighting and temperature, allowing them to autonomously create a comfortable space to rest.

IoT-based building management platforms add value to existing intelligent building technologies by delivering new visibility into healthcare facility performance to improve operational efficiency and resiliency while advancing patient care and sustainability targets

It can also facilitate access to care information like upcoming consults, release dates, and provider teams – ultimately assisting healthcare organisations in creating healing environments that are more responsive to both patients and staff.

The resilience of healthcare facilities can also benefit from IoT-based technologies.

IoT-enabled asset management and predictive maintenance systems keep facilities personnel up to date on equipment conditions and can help troubleshoot problems to ensure the 24/7 continuity patients depend upon.

Integrating this new technology into existing building energy management systems can also support an organisation’s sustainability goals.

The growth of enterprise-level environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programmes across all industries, including healthcare, is driving demand for IoT solutions.

Guidehouse Insights found that 72% of the responding organisations that have set sustainability targets have incorporated IoT systems into their facilities in the past 12 months, compared to 1% of those that have not set such targets.

Overcoming budget challenges

Guidehouse Insights’ new research report also highlights how IoT-enabled platforms and solutions can help facility managers create hyper-efficient, people-centric, resilient, and sustainable healthcare facilities of the future.

The true question is not whether healthcare providers have the funding to implement IoT: it’s whether they can afford to ignore its potential

The top two barriers respondents said they faced when deciding whether to install IoT solutions in their facilities or not were potential savings and the resulting return on the investment.

We must highlight, however, the potential that an open, integrated IoT platform can offer, beyond operational savings, to transform patient and staff experience within the facility, boost resilience, and address ESG directives.

Any IoT implementation should take a holistic approach to be successful, considering both the current and future state of the facility.

This process would include the full range of efficiency savings, patient and staff experience improvements, resiliency requirements, and ESG goals that facility executives hope to address. /Sign up for your free email newsletter