Future of Smart Hospitals - From AI Powered IOT Sensors to Edge AI Solutions



One of the most critical industry that is directly connected to us in almost all possible ways - emotionally, physically and financially is the Healthcare Industry. The development of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Robotics has not only brought efficiency to the healthcare industry, but it has also transformed how healthcare services are provided. Patient expectation and all the research and technological innovation has moved from developing reactive solutions to predictive health solutions, from generic treatment to personalized medicine.


The current healthcare ecosystem is not equipped to address the demand for pro-active measures for treatment. On top of that hospitals around the globe are facing tremendous pressure to provide/improve the care quality while focusing on cutting cost and dealing with the challenges of staff shortage and staff safety.


According to World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 45% of the WHO countries have less than 1 physician per 1000 population. Along with the existing challenges, the current Covid-19 pandemic, has also brought to the fore the need for contactless treatment of patients to ensure the safety of healthcare workers.


How IOT plays a crucial role in healthcare industry advancement


Generally medical monitoring, diagnostic etc. are conducted within the hospital vicinity but smart technologies such as IoT are changing the dimension of patient care management and hospital operations. The possibility of remotely monitoring patients monitoring and providing care in itself will help in mitigating the care worker shortage issue.


Internet of Things helps in contactless monitoring of patients and treatment from the comfort of their home. In generic IOT based sensors are capable of monitoring critical KPI’s of the equipment, assets and patients health. The main functionalities are considered to be collection, archiving, storage, transfer of data and automating the operations.


What is Smart Hospital?


Smart hospitals are nothing but hospitals which are optimized and redesigned to build a new clinical processes management system and infrastructure.


All aspects of hospital are interconnected to provide high quality service experience, data driven insight for better patient care, and drive operational efficiency by reducing wastage and leakages.


Some of the key elements in Smart Hospital concept are


Patient experience


Patient experience is the most important factor for health care quality which includes several aspects of health care delivery that patients value highly when they seek and receive care, such as getting timely appointments, easy access to information, and good communication with health care providers.


Smart Patient Experience is ensuring patients get the proper, affordable level of care at the right time using a combination of digital and human services that extend outside of the hospital. These include patient-operated controls, video visiting solutions, smart hospital beds to detect patient movement, digital access to medical data etc.


Companies like US based Evideon, Australia based Nexa, provides solutions to enhance patient experience.


Digital Workflow


Digital workflow in hospitals, is nothing but digitizing and optimizing the workforce flexibility for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to deliver patient care which leads to higher job satisfaction and retention, as well as a stronger provider-patient relationship. Solutions includes systems that integrate with Electronic Health Records and help in discharge planning, non-clinical service requests, complete compliance tasks etc.


Companies like Xerox, BP Logix, Flowform etc., provides solution focused on healthcare industry.


Building & Asset Management:


In Hospitals asset value are created by automating/remote tracking of medical devices, materials and predicted inventory needs to optimize control and reduce costs using RFID/RTLS.


Companies like IOT Start-up SmartX Connected Solutions, JT IoT, and Mysphera are some of the companies working in this phase.


Patient monitoring/remote care:


Leveraging platforms enabled with sensors to generate patient health data and development of monitoring command centers lets doctors and nurses monitor patients both in the hospital and remotely.

Is only data points and automation enough to achieve the desired output? An IOT solution is incomplete without AI. Harman, Sensital, Rinicare are some of the companies that provide IOT bases remote care platforms.


The Impact of Combining Artificial Intelligence with IOT


Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning algorithms provide the power required to analyse and make sense of the huge data that IOT sensors collect. AI powered IoT sensors consist of AI algorithms. This enabled data processing to be done locally on the device without any additional support like cloud computing. The device provides advanced predictive insights with respect to requirements. There are many studies underway to ascertain the benefit of AI enabled Sensors in healthcare.


Predict heart failure through Wearable AI sensor - The research team from the University of Utah Health and VA Salt Lake City Health Care System has developed a new artificial intelligence (AI) powered wearable sensor that could help doctors remotely detect critical changes in heart failure patients days before any health crisis occurs.


The adhesive sensor patch monitors continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) and motion of each subject, which is transmitted via Bluetooth to a smartphone and passed on to an analytics platform.


The analytics platform uses AI to establish a normal baseline for each patient with respect to information on heart rate, heart rhythm, respiratory rate, walking, sleep and postures. It will generate an indication that the patient’s heart failure was getting worse when the data deviated from the norm.


AI based contactless syndrome surveillance platform - Researchers at UMass Amherst have created FluSense which can distinguish coughing from other sounds. When cough data is combined with information about the size of the crowd in a location, the processing work is done locally via the neural computing engine and Raspberry Pi for predicting how many people are likely to be experiencing flu symptoms.


AI software products for embedding into edge sensor boards - ONE Tech’s MicroAI Atom brings big infrastructure intelligence down into a single piece of equipment or devices and MicroAI Helio which can be deployed on multiple devices simultaneously help in enabling performance benchmarking, health data visualizations, field service workflows, lifecycle management, warranty compliance tracking and AI-driven predictive capabilities.


These AI solutions can be incorporated into diverse healthcare solutions like patient vital monitoring system to identify root cause and warn two days prior before the event. The embedded AI in the edge sensor saves patients from emergency situation and provides recommendations for self recovery.


Complete suite of AI platform for predictive health capabilities - ETA Compute’s TENSAI platform provides complete suite of AI solution to identify patients of high risk with the help of intelligent predictive models. From AI powered sensors to software platforms. The complete AI integration is capable of interconnecting assets, doctors and patients to provide seamless insights and enable health care providers to predict medical emergencies before they happen and improving care outcomes and reducing costs.


Canadian company Xsensor Technology’s Intelligent Dynamic Sensing reveals data like clinical, and human body performance applications. Embedded AI-based algorithms can now monitor, alert, and analyze data from surfaces and dynamic motion. The platform enables new models for better predictive diagnosis and prognosis for skin, human body and sleep patterns.


Israeli startup Diagnostic Robotics created a customizable medical-grade AI triage and clinical-predictions platform to assess and monitor individuals at risk for illness. The platform is capable of remotely monitoring illness progression at scale and predicts the spread of the disease.


India based startup Helyxon is offering an AI-based biosensor 98.6 Fever Watch which continuously monitors temperature digitally and alerts doctors or attendants about any abnormal spike. The solution can be used for remote monitoring of the body temperature of patients continuously.


In order to ensure social distancing and safety in the hospital and building premises US based VergeSense sensors are powered with proprietary AI computer vision technology to capture and measure distance between people.


The Future of AI and IOT enabled solutions is Edge AI


AI computing within an IoT device require new solutions which meet the power, speed and size constraints. In order to achieve this, the trend is shifting towards integrated circuits optimized for machine learning. This type of processing is called as Edge AI. Edge AI could help in real-time interaction with patient, by doing the computing locally. It will also save value time compared to cloud-based computing, which would be critical while dealing with patients with serious health condition.


Companies like Nvidia and Intel are testing solution that allow Edge AI. A hyper-regulated industry like healthcare, where patient data privacy is critical, Edge AI could be the solution which opens the door for an even wide scale adoption of IOT and AI enabled technologies.


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