Healthcare is another sector that will be transformed by Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Low-cost wireless sensors supported by low-power wide area networks (LPWANs) are enabling many applications in a variety of healthcare settings, from hospitals to senior living communities.
Wireless sensors help healthcare institutions take better care of patients and staff, while also preserving delicate assets, such as medications and blood samples. They are enhancing both inpatient and outpatient experiences by automating information flow in such a way that allows medical professionals to focus more on providing high-quality care for patients.
In this article, we take a look at various use cases for wireless sensors in healthcare and highlight the many ways that they will change the industry forever.
Enhancing Hospital Operations
Wireless sensors can play many different roles in hospitals. Some directly support patient care while others help facility managers protect the integrity of core buildings.
Wireless air sensors can be installed all over hospital campuses in order to monitor air conditions in a low-cost, energy-efficient manner. These sensors can detect the presence of harmful gases and indicate when temperature or humidity levels move past certain thresholds.
Air sensors can help facility managers maintain comfortable temperatures in patient rooms and monitor conditions in environmentally sensitive areas. For example, lab technicians may rely on air sensors to send alerts if air conditions change and jeopardize blood samples, vaccines, or medicines.
Wireless humidity sensors can also play a crucial role in hospitals and other healthcare facilities as humidity levels need to be closely monitored. Pathogens, allergens, and other bacteria can develop quickly if humidity levels are too high. In critical care environments, it is particularly important for relative humidity levels to be set appropriately at all times, which is easier with wireless humidity sensors.
As with any building, wireless water sensors can also help mitigate flood damage from accidental leaks and plumbing issues that may arise in the hospital. Wireless rope sensors can detect liquid spills or pump failures over wide areas and leak sensors can be mounted near pipes to notify of frozen water in colder months. These sensors are also important for server centers and data rooms that house PHI.
Wireless push buttons can be deployed in hospitals and programmed to function as silent alarms that healthcare professionals can activate when necessary. These sensors are especially valuable in departments where doctors and nurses may need security guard assistance on a regular basis. For example, emergency rooms and behavioral health unit staff may want small wireless push buttons that can be easily activated if additional help is needed with unstable patients.
Caring For The Elderly
Wireless sensors are also being used in many ways to help care for the elderly.
Wireless push buttons can also be used as Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) and panic buttons that seniors can push whenever they need help. Users simply have to press a button in order to instantaneously alert or call family members or staff to their aid. These sensors are very important for individuals who have a high risk of falling and hurting themselves.
Push sensors can be used by home care providers or senior living community staff who want to ensure that their elderly clients can reach them at any time. These devices can also be used as silent alarms in case onsite professionals need access to security services. MultiTech offers both wireless single push button and dual push button sensors that can be configured for different purposes depending on the application.
Wireless motion sensors can also help staff monitor residents by tracking their physical activity. With wireless acceleration-based movement sensors, nurses can see if clients have been still for an unusually long time, indicating a potential problem. Wireless accelerometer sensors can also detect rapid movement and impact, which could mean someone has fallen.
Additionally, senior living homes can install wireless door and window sensors that monitor opening and closing events at certain locations. For example, staff could place wireless window sensors in every room to help ensure security of the seniors. Wireless door sensors can also be used to monitor activity in and out of recreational spaces or areas where visitors come and go on a regular basis.
Supporting Pharmaceutical Development
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are also turning to wireless sensors to enhance drug development processes and protect valuable inventory.
Wireless temperature sensors can help manufacturers optimize temperature control in their facilities. Wireless thermocouple temperature sensors and probes are able to withstand extreme temperatures, making them effective at monitoring delicate, temperature-dependent reactions.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can all use wireless proximity sensors to bolster building security in order to protect against theft. Those who carry large quantities of medications or highly expensive drug therapies need to be able to monitor their locations in a cost-effective manner. Wireless proximity sensors can be installed on exterior and interior surfaces to help security teams do their jobs more effectively.
Keeping Organs & Vaccines Safe In Transit
Wireless temperature monitoring is also changing the cold chain game, which has implications for the healthcare space.
Organ transport service providers can install temperature sensors across their entire fleets to ensure that organs are well-preserved while in transit. These sensors will send alerts if temperatures change around predefined thresholds, indicating that refrigeration or HVAC units may be failing. With this real-time information, transporters can act quickly in order to prevent organs from expiring before they reach their destinations.
Wireless temperature sensors are also useful for public health organizations that send temperature-sensitive vaccines to remote parts of the world. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested heavily in innovative refrigeration technology, pointing to the importance of safe vaccine transportation. With air temperature sensors, smaller public health agencies can also send critical medications across the globe and take advantage of new-age cold chain monitoring techniques.
Deploying Wireless Sensors For Healthcare With MultiTech
At MultiTech, we have a deep catalog of long-range, low-cost wireless sensors that can be deployed for numerous IoT healthcare applications.
We design and manufacture wireless sensors for the leading emerging LPWAN technologies, including LoRa, Sigfox, and NB-IoT. Using our Device Management Console, network engineers can easily configure and monitor wireless sensors that are already in hospitals, senior living communities, or other healthcare sites.
To learn more about how our wireless sensor technology can enable your organization’s healthcare IoT application, contact our team today.