The Internet of Things (IoT) empowers healthcare providers to capture everything from one errant heartbeat to the aggregated data of millions of patients with chronic conditions. Wearable sensors, secure wireless data relays, and cloud-based analytics form a platform for clinicians to monitor patients’ health data to anticipate problems and intervene before they become crises—and to forecast the future health needs of entire populations.
At the HIMSS18 health information and technology conference being held in Las Vegas this week, healthcare technology providers and product developers are showcasing solutions to not only enhance patient health, but also deliver business value for clinicians, patients, and insurers. Microsoft IoT solutions that leverage technologies including Azure, Machine Learning, Stream Analytics, and Power BI are digital building blocks for the future of medical care. From the physician’s office to the patient’s bedside, the following four Microsoft customers are developing innovative healthcare products that can help clinicians improve care and even save lives.
CardioDiagnostics: Using IoT to prevent deaths from heart disease
After Lebanese tech entrepreneur Ziad Sankari lost a parent to heart disease at an early age, he was determined to keep other families from suffering the same tragedy. His startup, CardioDiagnostics, is helping patients monitor their cardiac health with a wearable Wi-Fi heart monitoring solution that relays data through the cloud to an Azure IoT solution. Automated data analytics and round-the-clock clinician monitoring mean that at the first signs of potential problems, patients and their physicians can be alerted and take immediate action to prevent serious cardiac events. Thousands of patients in the U.S. and the Middle East are wearing these HIPAA-compliant devices.
“The shift to Azure cloud has been a game-changer for our company,” Sankari says. “Perhaps it’s a game-changer for the entire mobile health industry.”
Zion China: Managing diabetes with a wearable device
Wearable devices can also be used to track blood glucose, exercise habits, and other health indicators for people with diabetes. Beijing-based Zion China has developed innovative monitoring and analysis tools that offer patients personalized advice on how to manage their health, including a wearable device that measures blood glucose levels every three minutes. As the solution’s user base grew, the development team realized they needed a data platform that could scale to securely manage data from millions of users. So today Zion China uses Microsoft Azure IoT, Machine Learning, Stream Analytics, SQL Database, and Microsoft Power BI to optimize analytics and enable predictive analysis that can serve the needs of hospitals and health management organizations as well as their patients.
“China currently has 130 million citizens who have been diagnosed with diabetes,” says Vincent Yang, CEO of Zion China. “It is our mission to help these patients and their families manage this chronic disease.”
Sensoria Health: Smart diabetes care goes feet-first
In addition to monitoring blood sugar, patients with diabetes must pay special attention to their feet. Foot wounds are one of the most dangerous and expensive complications of diabetes; up to one-third of people with diabetes will experience foot wounds, which if untreated can lead to infection, diminished mobility, and even amputation. Sensoria Health is teaming with Optima Molliter to create a smart footwear product—the Motus Smart device—which combines Sensoria Core technologies with the clinically tested Optima Molliter Offloading system to monitor patients’ compliance with the care prescribed for a foot ulceration.
“Motus Smart will significantly improve the lives of people who suffer from diabetic foot complications,” says Davide Vigano, co-founder and CEO of Sensoria Health. “With Sensoria’s technology, caregivers and clinicians will have access to vast amounts of patient data, allowing them to track compliance and intervene before amputation becomes unavoidable.”
GOJO SMARTLINK: Saving lives through better hand hygiene
Hospital-acquired infections cause about 75,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, and people’s hands are a primary carrier of pathogens. It’s vital for clinicians to keep their hands clean as they move from patient to patient. Unfortunately, U.S. hand hygiene compliance rates average just below 50 percent. GOJO Industries, the creators of Purell hand sanitizer, has developed GOJO SMARTLINK, an IoT solution that helps healthcare facilities monitor and improve their hand hygiene compliance rates.
The GOJO SMARTLINK solution connects two types of monitoring devices: an activity counter that tracks movement in and out of a specific area, such as a patient’s room, and a usage sensor on each Purell dispenser. The monitors feed data to an IoT and analytics platform built with Azure IoT, which uses BI tools to process the data and provide valuable compliance information to facility managers through easy-to-use web or mobile portals.
“The GOJO SMARTLINK solution has not only become the global leader in hand hygiene compliance monitoring, but also delivers a higher standard of care by providing better insights and increasing patient safety,” says Jeff Hall, vice president of business development at GOJO Industries. “Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can save a life.”
From the latest advances in cardiac care to the fundamental practice of hand hygiene, IoT gives healthcare organizations the data and analytics tools they need to gain new insights, advance the practice of medicine, and improve health outcomes for their patients.