In the healthcare industry, data is growing at an astounding rate. A recent Dell Technologies global survey found that healthcare and life sciences data had grown by 878 percent over the previous two years — with no slowdown in sight. A significant percentage of this data is coming from the 10–15 connected devices that are often found at the typical hospital bedside. At the same time, healthcare providers are also collecting a mountain of patient data being generated from connected wearable medical devices, like smart watches and mobile wellness applications.
The challenge now is how to put all of this data to work to improve diagnostic and patient care processes to contribute to better patient care outcomes. And — good news, here — healthcare providers are making a great deal of progress in this regard. Today, clinicians are deriving actionable insights from data collected from a wide range of Edge and IoT devices.
In this new era, Edge and IoT solutions are essential. Healthcare providers are enabled to monitor the wellbeing of patients and devices remotely, whether patients are down the hall or miles away, and keep track of staff, equipment and inventory by gathering and analyzing data as it is generated. These capabilities help providers deliver smarter care, respond faster to health emergencies, and automate data collection for administrative mandates, such as those for compliance and reporting.
The concept of Edge computing is important here, with data analytics happening at or near the point of capture. This is particularly important in healthcare, as care providers often need to respond immediately with available information. For some applications, there simply isn’t enough time to send data to a distant data center for analysis. Truly connected healthcare needs intelligence at the Edge.
Some common healthcare use cases for Edge intelligence
In connected healthcare, distributed analytics unlocks insights from data collected from IoT devices to help healthcare providers see beyond episodic patient visits. Edge computing broadens the field of vision, creating a continuous real-time patient record that helps providers shift from reactive to proactive care.
A clear view of the power of Edge computing emerges in use case examples that illustrate how the healthcare equation changes when the analytics are brought to the data, including:
Improved patient safety and monitoring
Computer vision solutions can monitor acute patient safety and longer-term medical compliance to reduce readmissions. Examples include cameras and sensors that monitor patient and staff compliance with hand sanitization policies to reduce infection rates, devices that ensure discharge instructions are fully followed through, telesitters to improve patient safety and reduce fall risk in post-acute care step-down patients, and connected pill bottles that confirm medical adherence.
Expanded chronic disease management and preventative medicine
Sensors and devices enable continuous patient monitoring — alerting healthcare providers to clinically meaningful changes and predicting potential candidates for early intervention. Examples include smart mirrors that use intelligent hardware and software to identify subtle yet clinically relevant changes in physique and appearance, FDA-approved devices and sensors that provide in-home chronic disease monitoring, and consumer wearables, such as smart watches that track wellness indicators.
New opportunities to enhance precision medicine research
Sensor-generated data, combined with medical-grade software applications, make it possible to treat rare medical conditions previously too expensive to address. Examples include wearables and other sensors that are integrated into the clinical trial process to expedite study completion and improve clinical compliance and reporting, along with digital therapeutic capabilities, such as applications that allow for the automatic collection and use of individual health data.
Enhanced pharmaceutical drug supply chain safety
Edge and IoT devices and sensors can reduce the risks inherent in the healthcare supply chain, including temperature-related and counterfeit risks. Examples include devices that continuously monitor temperature changes in vaccines during transportation to ensure that safe temperature range is maintained, RFID sensors that track medication from point of manufacturing to point of consumption, and GPS-enabled shipping containers that improve inventory and waste management and distinguish between goods in transit and goods stolen.
For healthcare providers, the deployment of real-time analytics at the Edge is transformative. It creates the opportunity to identify, refine and understand data as it is generated for the fastest possible insights and action. These advances are changing healthcare in fundamental ways, and driving toward better outcomes for both patients and providers.
For healthcare organizations looking to make greater use of Edge and IoT solutions, Dell Technologies is uniquely positioned to power your digital transformation. Together with our partner ecosystem, we are investing heavily in technology for applications, data, infrastructure and security to bring together solutions that enable analytics at the Edge in healthcare environments — and help you work toward the all-important goal of improving patient outcomes.
To learn more
For a closer look at the case for Edge and IoT solutions in healthcare, see the Dell Technologies infographic “Edge and IoT solutions: A new vision for Healthcare and Life Sciences” and white paper “Evolving from Chronic Disease Management to Preventative Care: Healthcare IoT Data at the Edge.” To see Healthcare Edge and IoT use cases in action, join us at the Dell Technologies Booth #2121 at HIMSS20 in Orlando, Florida, from March 10–12, 2020.
Kirsten Billhardt is the Marketing Director of Edge and IoT at Dell Technologies.
Roberta Katz is the Director of Global Industries Marketing at Dell Technologies.
 Huesch and Mosher, “Using It or Losing It? The Case for Data Scientists Inside Health Care,” NEJM Catalyst, May 4, 2017.