Internet of Things case study: Boston Children’s Hospital and smarter healthcare

IoT Case Study: Boston Children’s Hospital and Smarter Healthcare
MWC Healthcare is one of the richest areas of opportunity for IoT. Shwetak Patel, a MacArthur Fellow and professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington who specializes in the development of Internet of Things technologies, says, “The next wave of the Internet of Things will have a huge impact on healthcare. home health care is important for chronic disease management One of the diseases Patel is targeting through the Internet of Things is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.

COPD, formerly called chronic bronchitis or emphysema, is a progressive lung condition that causes shortness of breath and cough. COPD affects five percent of the world’s population and three million people die from it every year. For example, in the United States, COPD accounts for three-quarters of a million hospitalizations annually and is the third leading cause of death. The disease is diagnosed and treated using devices called spirometers, which measure the flow of air into and out of the lungs. Spirometers cost thousands of dollars, are only available in hospitals and sometimes doctors’ offices, and many COPD patients do not have easy access to them. To solve this problem, Patel created an IoT-based alternative to spirometers, using the world’s most connected sensors: phone microphones.

Twenty years ago, there were less than a billion phones in the world. There are nearly nine billion phones today, the majority of which are mobile phones. Patel’s team developed an algorithm that measures lung health by analyzing the sound of someone blowing into a phone’s microphone. Simulates a spirometer without the cost and hospital visit. All a COPD sufferer has to do is call the toll-free number and fire up their phone. Network computers take care of the rest by performing complex calculations and delivering the results seconds later via voice or text message. Early versions of the algorithm only worked on expensive smartphones, but Patel and his team refined it over time until it could be used on any phone. The method now has 95% accuracy on all types of phones, including landlines. COPD diagnosis and treatment provide insight into how the Internet of Things may improve healthcare in the future. However, the Internet of Things is also improving healthcare today. For example, one of the biggest and less attractive problems in modern hospitals is figuring out how to get where you’re going, or “wayfinding.” Wayfinding is a big problem in hospitals. When people get lost in the hospital it causes stress and costs the hospital money. Outpatients and people visiting sick family members do not know the hospital and are already under pressure – a situation that makes it difficult to process information. A study at Emory University Hospital, an acute care facility in Atlanta, found that wayfinding problems cost $400,000 a year — more than $800 per bed — the equivalent of at least two full-time employees. Much of this cost comes from interruptions and distractions when people ask staff for directions. This problem is particularly acute in children’s hospitals, where the visitors are caring parents and the outpatients are children.

The costs and harms of wayfinding problems in hospitals have received much attention in the medical community in recent decades, and as a result, new hospitals are often designed to be easy to navigate. Only a few hospitals are new. In fact, most of them are very old. For example, in Boston, Massachusetts, most of the hospitals have their roots in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Some have moved to new locations relatively recently, but others have not—instead, they have added new buildings to old buildings and developed without a thought to search. It is not possible to change the design of these hospitals for easy navigation: they need a different solution.