We've written about the Internet of Things before. We explained how it's changing the way people interact with devices — from small devices like phones, watches, toothbrushes, and coffee makers to big devices like turbines, automobiles, or jet engines.
We're moving toward a world where everything can be connected. And while this opens doors to opportunities for many types of consumers and businesses, our focus at Emanate Wireless is on the healthcare industry.
Let's talk about that.
At Emanate Wireless, we build solutions that continuously monitor the operation and productivity of key clinical assets within healthcare facilities. Why does that matter?
It matters to patients. When hospitals have perfect information about their assets, patients get better service.
It matters to staff. When people are asked to do more with less, technology like ours that drives efficiency can improve processes and reduce stress.
It matters to administrators. For those who believe in managing processes, not people, solid data on the status of critical assets can facilitate decision making and enhance process flow.
It matters to us. In short, our technology converts raw data into actionable data. And when healthcare facilities use this data to make informed decisions, conserve resources, and enhance patient care, you might say our mission is fulfilled.
Here's how all that works…
Emanate Wireless attaches our intelligent, cloud-connected sensors to important, clinical assets. These sensors gather data and contextual information. Analytical systems transform that data into actionable insight. And our mobile and web-based apps keep nurses, clinical engineers, and administrative staff continuously informed.
As an example, we've created a unique sensor to monitor the AC power draw of refrigerators. Our real-time analytics software processes that data and generates alerts for problems before they occur, prompting corrective action before inventory is lost. Imagine a vaccine, human tissue, sensitive pharmaceuticals — all of these saved instead of spoiled, and available when needed.
So the Internet of Things can do more that make your coffee in time for breakfast. And in the hands of folks like us — with a passion for applying these concepts to the healthcare industry — the Internet of Things might someday save a life.
At Emanate Wireless, that's the sort of thing that matters.
Monitoring the storage temperature of critical assets and supplies in a healthcare or pharmaceutical environment is necessary to meet various compliance requirements. But beyond compliance, temperature monitoring is also a proactive measure by healthcare providers to save thousands of dollars in losses that can occur if product and/or samples are damaged due to incorrect storage temperature.
Some providers still use a manual temperature recording process. In addition to being inefficient, the manual approach can be very slow to recognize an excursion – by the time it is recorded, the temperature could have been out of spec for many hours. And it’s difficult to prove that an excursion did not occur between manual readings. Most providers are upgrading to automated data loggers that monitor continuously, and alarm when temperatures fall out of specification. This approach reduces manual labor and errors, and also provides earlier warning of excursions.
But even with an automated monitoring systems, delays can occur because the temperature probes are typically inserted in glycol or sand. The use of glycol or sand buffers out air temperature fluctuations in the refrigerator (for ex. when the door is open) to avoid false alarms. The use of buffers also more accurately reflect the current temperature of the products or assets being stored, since as we all know, when something is cold, it stays cold for a while even if the air around it gets warm. But the use of these buffers means that by the time the monitoring system alerts the provider to a temperature excursion, the refrigerator may have been failing for hours, and the material itself may be at risk of spoilage in the near future. In other words, by the time a warning comes, the situation is fairly urgent.
So how can a healthcare provider or pharmacy buffer out false alarms, but still get early warning when a temperature excursion is likely to occur? As is often the case in the “Internet of Healthcare Things”, the answer lies in additional sensors. Instead of only monitoring temperature, the systems must also monitor the functioning of the refrigeration unit itself. For example, a sensor can be used to detect if the door is open longer than expected. A sensor can also monitor the duty cycle of the refrigerator compressor, and provide a warning if the unit is running at a higher duty cycle than typical – indicating a need for maintenance. (Example maintenance issues include compressor mechanical failures, seal failures, and dirty coils). A sensor can also be used to detect if the AC outlet is providing power to the unit.
Does a solution like this actually exist? Fortunately, yes. Introducing PowerPath Temp from Emanate Wireless, which monitors and analyzes the AC power line of the storage unit in addition to the internal temperature. By monitoring the AC power line, PowerPath Temp is capable of detecting the key sources of excursions (Door Open, Compressor Issues, AC outage), and alarming before the excursion actually happens. For the healthcare industry, this new product represents an opportunity to more reliably preserve expensive or even irreplaceable products like pharmaceuticals, vaccines, or human organs and tissues requiring a constant temperature for storage.
PowerPath is easily installed without any particular, mechanical expertise. It mounts on the side of a healthcare refrigerator or freezer and is plugged-in between the refrigerator or freezer's plug and an AC outlet. Its temperature probe is inserted through the back of the refrigerator or freezer's plug or routed behind the door seal.
The PowerPath device includes a rechargeable, lifetime battery -- so if a power outage to the refrigerator happens, the unit immediately alerts of this condition and continues to monitor the storage temperature internal to the refrigerator or freezer. The PowerPath Temp uses Wi-Fi technology to communicate with the Cloud Server. It also features Bluetooth Low Energy technology to communicate to a PowerPath mobile application.
You can’t get through an article in a technical or business journal these days without coming across a mention of the Internet of Things – or IoT for short. Everyone resonates with the idea that when the devices (or “things”) around us become smart and connected, our lives will become better. For example, when my alarm clock goes off, the heat lamp in my bathroom should turn on, and my coffee pot should start brewing. These kinds of smart interactions will no doubt make our lives more convenient and less stressful.
From a “business” perspective, the bigger story for IoT is generally in the Industrial and Manufacturing sectors, where smart and connected devices will save money by improving efficiency in areas such as process flow, energy consumption, and quality control. But from my perspective, the sector in which IoT will actually have the greatest and most important impact is Healthcare. The reasons are pretty straightforward…
In Healthcare, there is a ton of critical information that is needed by the right person at the right time so the right decisions can be made. And the information is often distributed or currently unknown. For ex, when a new patient enters a healthcare facility, part of the admissions process is asking a lot of laborious questions, taking initial vital signs, etc. But what if those key vital signs and history are already stored in the health monitoring devices in the patient’s home, or the monitoring device the patient has been wearing over the last week? The info in those devices then needs to get uploaded so the nurse and doctor have an immediate picture of the events in the patient’s life (exercise, eating) and vital signs (pulse rate, blood sugar) over the last week! The internet of things can make this a seamless occurrence.
In Healthcare, there’s also a huge amount of information that needs to be recorded… so that when something happens we’re able to go back and learn. What device and procedure was applied to the patient? What were the results or indications? And even subtler…what was the temperature and humidity of the room where the patient was staying, and the refrigerator in which the administered drug was stored? Much of this recording is currently done manually (or not at all). The internet of things will allow the use of sensors to automate this data capture, to enable capture of more subtle data feeds, and to eliminate errors and omissions.
But at the end of the day, the real reason IoT will have such a big impact on Healthcare is both the magnitude and human impact of the benefits…Automating and improving information flow greatly increases the effectiveness and satisfaction of clinical staff. When nurses and doctors don’t need to waste time recording or gathering information, they are able to use that time for patient care. And when clinical staff have more time and better information, the end result will be greatly improved patient experience and patient outcomes.