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Exploring the Convergence of the IoT and Patient Safety

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The growth and explosion of IoT technology has been astonishing to watch over the past few years. And while we often discuss the impact it’s having in tech and consumer products niches, it’s having an equally profound impact in healthcare – particularly when it comes to patient safety.

6 Ways the IoT is Impacting Patient Safety

To most people, the IoT sounds like some far-off concept that could have an impact down the road. The term is used so frequently that it’s almost become a cliché. But the IoT isn’t just another futuristic technology with theoretical application. If you study today’s evolving healthcare system, you’ll discover that it’s been catalytic in many of the innovations and developments that have occurred over the past year or two.

In particular, the IoT and connected devices are positively impacting patient safety in healthcare. Here are a few of the specific ways:

1. Adverse Event Reporting

The healthcare industry is overwhelmed by rules, laws, regulations, and insurance. Hospitals and care providers are hesitant to speak out about issues, mistakes, and errors over the fear that they’ll be hit with an onslaught of fines, fees, and lawsuits. Yet proper reporting is one of the only ways to curb the use of dangerous pharmaceuticals and defective products. This is where fully integrated IoT platforms come into play.

Advanced medical device platforms are, for the first time ever, giving healthcare teams real-time access to patient vitals and results. This allows them to make better-informed decisions in the moment, as opposed to waiting for test results. Combined with predictive analytics, doctors can make proactive decisions about potentially adverse results or complications before signs and symptoms emerge.

Improved adverse event reporting benefits both patients and doctors. It helps patients by reducing the likelihood of complications and offering more immediate and long-lasting solutions. It benefits doctors by eliminating litigious mistakes that could potentially lead to negative outcomes and/or lawsuits.

2. Training and Education

Any time you train someone in a technical field, there’s a gap that must be overcome between theoretical knowledge and experiential understanding. An individual can be trained and educated for years, but until that person is thrown into a real-world experience, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be capable of executing. This situation is constantly being played out in the world of healthcare.

Medical schools and healthcare training programs are perpetually on the lookout for new and superior methods for closing the gap between academic knowledge and real world experience without putting patient safety at risk. For years, this has been a struggle. But more recently we’ve seen how advances in training and simulation technology can efficiently bridge the divide.

For example, companies like Intelligent Video Solutions use real-time video recording solutions to record training sessions and provide immediate feedback that medical students can use to improve and optimize in the middle of a session. The video can then be archived and systematically filed away within an advanced video library for future review and analysis. This sort of real-time feedback accelerates training and better prepares participants for stepping into real-world situations with actual patients.

3. Remote Monitoring

It’s unrealistic and financially infeasible for patients to stay under direct monitoring around the clock. Once a patient is stable and comfortable enough to return home, it’s no longer practical to remain at the hospital. It would be a waste of money and man-hours – both of which are precious commodities in today’s healthcare industry. But with advances in remote monitoring capabilities, this is no longer an issue.

Connected devices, powered by the IoT, are making it possible for doctors and healthcare teams to accurately monitor their patients vitals and other factors from remote locations. Examples of remote monitoring include:

  • For patients with a history of heart failure, doctors can send home an internet-connected scale that transmits data and records key benchmarks. When paired with regular phone calls, this leads to far lower 30- and 60-day readmissions.
  • For patients with heart issues, simple wearable devices – like fitness trackers – can send real time heart rate data to doctors. When paired with patient-specific information, doctors can establish systems that notify them of alarming trends that signal an increased risk for heart-related complications.
  • Believe it or not, there are now “smart pills” with embedded sensors that tell doctors when medication has been taken. It can then track the pill’s activity so that patients get the most out of each medication they take.

It’s impossible for doctors to be in multiple places at once, but advances in remote monitoring technology are making healthcare teams more flexible than ever before. In turn, patients are getting better care and more consistently positive results.

4. Workflow Automation

As the number of connected devices increases, hospitals are tasked with finding ways to efficiently manage the data they have available at their fingertips. And without a proper system in place, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of meaningless data and superfluous information.

Consider, for example, that the average patient has somewhere between three and six monitoring devices attached to them while admitted. This requires a time commitment of at least five to 15 minutes for a nurse to check each patient’s vital signs, thereby limiting the number of patients that can be seen to just a few per hour. Medical device connectivity with proper workflow automation helps solve this bottleneck by automatically sending patient data to the underlying Electronic Health Record (EHR) system and producing real-time reports that can be accurately reviewed in seconds.

Workflow automation also helps ensure minimal transcription errors at the point of care, more reliable real-time data analysis, remote configuration of patient medications and dosages, and automatic billing. The end result is improved patient outcomes.

5. Mobile Health Insights

Connected devices aren’t just for doctors and healthcare professionals. Patients are constantly armed with their own personal smart devices, which has paved the way for an influx of mobile health apps that improve patient outcomes. Some popular and effective patient apps include:

  • Glucose Buddy. For individuals with diabetes, this free app allows users to manually enter in glucose numbers, insulin dosages, carb consumption, and activity. It then creates push reminders to keep users engaged with their health.
  • WebMD Pain Coach. Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain on a daily basis. With this WebMD app, patients can input and rate pain levels on a scale of 1 to 10, while simultaneously recording treatments, moods, and possible triggers. This establishes a sort of journal that patients can use to better discuss their pain with their healthcare providers.
  • AliveCor. This revolutionary app is paired with a sleek, medical grade EKG pad that allows users to turn a smartphone into a mobile electrocardiogram. It’s capable of detecting tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, and other heart irregularities.
  • ResolutionMD. This medical viewing app provides instant access to high-resolution radiology diagnostic images and reports on mobile devices. The app streams the data from numerous imaging modalities and uses off-site servers to prepare the visualizations. Because of the outside processing, no sensitive patient information is transmitted on the device. This makes it completely safe and secure.

Mobile apps are constantly coming and going, but it’s exciting to catch a glimpse of some of the potential connected devices offer on the patient-side of things. As IoT technology improves and consumer-grade mobile devices become more advanced, look for even more useful innovations to emerge.

6. Surgical AI Robots

Robotic surgery is no longer a far-fetched dream. We’re living in a period of significant innovation and some of today’s most intricate and complex surgeries are now being performed by robotic systems and advanced software.  It’s estimated that the global surgical robotics market will reach $98 billion by 2024 – a compound annual growth rate of 8.5 percent from 2017 to 2024. This represents a pretty serious shift.

Robots – which are being used in fields like urology, neurology, orthopedics, gynecology, and general surgery – are shown to be safer, more efficient, and more cost-effective. They allow for minimally invasive procedures, faster recovery, and lower rates of human error. As technology improves, more hospitals around the country will shift significant investments into robotics.

The Future of Healthcare

Few industries move as fast as healthcare. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on new research and discoveries with the aim of delivering better value to stakeholders at every level of the system – including patients, doctors, administrators, medical students, educators and public health officials. As we continue to keep an eye on the development of the IoT, it’ll be interesting to track the positive impact it has on patient safety and well-being. Big things are coming and the future looks brighter than ever!

Frank Landman

Frank Landman

Frank is a freelance journalist who has worked in various editorial capacities for over 10 years. He covers trends in technology as they relate to business.



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Disney Plus doc The Imagineering Story takes a beautiful theme park tour

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The Imagineering Story traces the history of Disney Parks from their earliest days.


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Documentaries probably aren’t the first thing that spring to mind when you think of the new Disney Plus streaming service. Most of us are thinking about the original Star Wars and Marvel shows, the vast library of classic movies, or revisiting obscure shows of our childhoods. 

Still, Disney Parks are a pillar of the company’s business, and The Imagineering Story promises a tantalizing peek behind the curtain. The six-episode documentary — narrated by Angela Bassett and directed by Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible‘s Leslie Iwerks — premieres on Disney’s streaming service on Nov. 12. I got access to the first two engaging episodes. 

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Walt Disney is center stage in the first episode.


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The first focuses on founder Walt Disney, providing a nice emotional through line as it traces the origins of his theme park idea in the late ’40s. The documentary shows how revered he was by employees and how demanding he was as a boss, but doesn’t reveal much about who he was beneath the kindly exterior. 

After choosing Anaheim, California, as the location for Disneyland, Walt gathers the Imagineers (a term referring to imagination engineering, popularized by Disney) to design it. Even though Disney Parks have been rooted in pop culture for decades now, it’s cool to be reminded of the ambition behind them.

We’re smoothly guided through the project to its 1955 opening day — a disaster due to overcrowding, high temperatures and plumbing problems. There’s a wealth of archival footage, interspersed with present-day interviews, so you get a sense of how uncomfortable and chaotic it must’ve been.

The real meat of the documentary comes when it focuses on iconic rides like the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Original designer Bob Gurr (who’s now 88) is fascinating to listen to as he outlines what Walt tasked him with. Seeing the original schematics for this 50-year-old roller coaster — and the secret basketball hoop workers set up in its bowels — is surprisingly exciting, like you’re being guided into a world few people have seen.

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The documentary looks at the model who inspired Haunted Mansion fortune-teller Madame Leota.


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We also get in-depth looks at It’s A Small World (with its love-it-or-hate-it theme song) and Pirates of the Caribbean (which has an epic tune). The documentary’s close look at the animatronic figures that populate these rides will make you appreciate them in a whole new way.

Picking up after Walt’s death in 1966, the second episode focuses on the construction of Disney World in Florida and Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). Walt envisioned this as a futuristic city containing businesses, residential areas and mass transportation systems, but his successors ultimately scaled it down into a theme park celebrating human achievement.


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The documentary highlights some of Walt’s wild concepts, and reminds us how impressive the finished Epcot actually is — it contained voice recognition tech and touchscreens long before they entered the mainstream. It also touches on the mass layoffs that happened after it was done in 1982, keeping the human element in focus.

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The artists behind Disney Parks shine in this documentary series.


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We also get an engaging deep dive into the creation of the Haunted Mansion, but Space Mountain is glossed over a bit too quickly. Much of the rest of the episode is devoted to Disneyland Tokyo and the Japanese love of all things Disney — adding a lively cultural dimension to the series. 

Overall, the first two episodes of The Imagineering Story balance the creative and design sides of Disney Park history with the human stories. It’s a little sanitized — we don’t hear from guests or any cast members who have to wear bulky costumes all day — and sometimes you’ll wish it dug deeper into your favorite ride. But it’s hard not to come away with a massive appreciation for the people who made these incredible theme parks possible.

Originally published Nov. 4. 



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2 reasons why the 'Shining' sequel 'Doctor Sleep' flopped at the box office

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  • “Doctor Sleep,” a sequel to “The Shining” based on Stephen King’s book of the same name, made just $14 million domestically over the weekend.
  • Box-office experts say that the studio Warner Bros.’ made two drastic mistakes: marketing it as a “Shining” sequel and not releasing it during the Halloween season.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“Doctor Sleep,” from “The Haunting of Hill House” director Mike Flanagan, seemed like a winner not long ago. 

Going into the movie’s opening weekend, the studio Warner Bros. was projected to make up to $30 million domestically. Boxoffice Pro predicted a $25 million haul, while Box Office Mojo projected $27 million. But when initial box-office numbers rolled in on Friday — and it had made just $1.5 million in Thursday night previews — the movie’s outlook dimmed.

“‘Doctor Sleep’ was unable to parlay its connection to ‘The Shining’ into an expected $25 million to $30 million-plus weekend and the tracking was clearly off by a country mile,” Paul Dergarbedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, told Business Insider.

“Doctor Sleep” ultimately earned a catastrophic $14 million domestically over the weekend, coming in well below expectations and even finishing second at the box office behind Roland Emmerich’s “Midway.” With a $45 million budget, “Doctor Sleep” could lose at least $20 million for Warner Bros. when all is said and done, according to Deadline. 

The Hollywood Reporter reported on Monday that the studio “scrambled to understand what went so wrong” on Sunday morning. Warner Bros. did not immediately return a request for comment from Business Insider.

So, what did go so wrong for “Doctor Sleep”?

Younger audiences don’t care about ‘The Shining’

Horror is one of the most reliable genres at the box office in recent years, with hits like “Get Out,” “It,” and “A Quiet Place.” “Doctor Sleep” had that going for it, along with its connection to a horror classic — or so the industry thought.

The marketing for “Doctor Sleep” heavily pushed the movie’s connection to “The Shining,” Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror movie starring Jack Nicholson. The two posters below are clear examples.

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But Warner Bros. overestimated “The Shining’s” influence among younger audiences, according to box-office experts.

“Sometimes a cinematic connection that is meaningful to film buffs and movie fans — particularly from a movie that is over 30 years old — falls on deaf ears with younger viewers,” Dergarbedian said. 

“39 years was simply too long between sequels,” Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations senior media analyst, told Business Insider.

Bock added that many viewers were likely confused as to whether “Doctor Sleep” was a sequel or a reboot, and were therefore turned off from the movie.

Warner Bros.’ other mistake was not releasing the movie earlier during the Halloween season, according to Bock.

“There was certainly a window to do so, and honestly, they fumbled it,” Bock said. “It cost them millions.”

“Doctor Sleep” is the latest in a series of box-office flops for Warner Bros. this year. Two of its high-budget sequels, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and “It: Chapter Two,” performed way below their predecessors. And “The Goldfinch” and “The Kitchen” are two of the biggest flops of the year. 

SEE ALSO: ‘Midway’ $17.5 million opening weekend box office win marks lowest November champ in 20 years

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Google signs healthcare data and cloud computing deal with Ascension

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FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google signed its biggest cloud computing customer in healthcare yet, according to an announcement on Monday, gaining with the deal datasets that could help it tune potentially lucrative artificial intelligence tools.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported Google teaming up with Ascension to collect personal health-related information of millions of Americans across 21 states. (on.wsj.com/2q3WCer)

The partnership will also explore artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to help improve clinical effectiveness as well as patient safety, Ascension said in a statement.

Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian has made it a priority in his first year on the job to aggressively chase business from leaders in six industries, including healthcare.

The company previously had touted smaller healthcare clients, such as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine.

Google has spent several years developing artificial intelligence to automatically analyze MRI scans and other patient data to identify diseases and make predictions aimed at improving outcomes and reducing cost.

Ascension, which operates 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities across United States, said the partnership is in compliance with the U.S. data privacy act HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which safeguards medical information.

The Journal reported that the data involved in the project includes lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, complete with patient names and dates of birth.

The news follows an earlier announcement from Google that it would buy Fitbit Inc (FIT.N) for $2.1 billion, aiming to enter the wearables segment and invest in digital health.

Reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco and Ambhini Aishwarya in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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