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Shielding Frontline Health Workers with AI

Illustration: © IoT For All

We are living through an unprecedented crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers have emerged as frontline heroes, working overtime to protect our communities from the spread of novel coronavirus. But they aren’t immune to the anxious, uncertain atmosphere the pandemic has fostered nor, indeed, the coronavirus itself.

We need to protect the first responders and hospital staff who put their wellbeing on the line to support their communities during a crisis. To my mind, that means using every tool at our disposal to the fullest — with AI chief among those at hand.

Creative Solution

There’s little doubt that the current situation demands a creative solution. The United States has become the center of the global pandemic; as of April 16th, the US confirmed 644,188 cases and endured 28,579 deaths. Despite efforts to flatten the curve by ordering regional shut-downs and stay-at-home orders, hospitals across the county have been all but overwhelmed by incoming cases. The impact on provider morale has, according to reporting from NPR, been similarly problematic.

“Nearly a month into the declared pandemic, some health care workers say they’re exhausted and burning out from the stress of treating a stream of critically ill patients in an increasingly overstretched health care system,” NPR reporters Will Stone and Leila Fadel recently wrote. “Many are questioning how long they can risk their own health […] In many hospitals, the pandemic has transformed emergency rooms and upended protocols and precautions that workers previously took for granted.”

Hospitals are doing all they can to keep their caregivers safe and protected, but their resources are stretched far too thin. According to reports, some hospitals in high-infection areas like New York City can only afford to give healthcare workers one N95 mask every five days. Used masks are collected, disinfected, and returned on a cycle between uses. But some frontline workers worry that, given the highly contagious nature of the disease, they may not be adequately protected.

“It can be disheartening to have that feeling of uncertainty that you are not going to be protected,” Sophia Rago, an ER nurse based in St. Louis, told reporters for NPR.

We need to shield our frontline workers as much as possible. The obvious solution would be to increase stores of personal protective equipment (PPE) and N95 masks; however, given that we face a national shortfall and harsh state-to-state bidding wars over the gear, that fix seems unlikely. What we can do to at least lessen the risk of patient-to-provider transmission is to invest in AI-powered solutions that can automate some healthcare protocols and limit the need for close contact.

“Traditional processes — those that rely on people to function in the critical path of signal processing — are constrained by the rate at which we can train, organize, and deploy human labor. Moreover, traditional processes deliver decreasing returns as they scale,” a team of digital health researchers recently wrote in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

“Digital systems can be scaled up without such constraints, at virtually infinite rates. The only theoretical bottlenecks are computing power and storage capacity — and we have plenty of both. Digital systems can keep pace with exponential growth.”

These AI-powered, digitally-facilitated solutions generally fall into two broad categories: disease containment and patient management.

Assessing AI’s Ability to Limit Disease Transmission

When it comes to limiting disease spread, the aim is to use AI tools to allocate human resources better while still protecting patients and staff. Take the screening system that was recently deployed at Tampa General Hospital in Florida, for example. This AI framework was designed by the autonomous care startup Care.ai and intended to facilitate early identification and interception of infected people before they come into contact with others. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the Care.ai tool taps into entryway cameras and conducts a facial thermal scan. If the system flags any feverish symptoms such as sweat or discoloration, it can notify healthcare staff and prompt immediate intervention.

Other technology companies––Microsoft, for one––have rolled out similar remote diagnostic and alert tools in facilities across the globe. Their unique capabilities vary, but their purposes are the same: to prevent the spread of infection and provide support to overworked personnel.

As representatives for Microsoft shared in a recent press release, “[AI technology] not only improves the efficiency of epidemic prevention, but it also reduces the work burden of frontline personnel so that limited human resources can be used more effectively.”

In these resource-strapped time, the aid is undoubtedly needed.

AI’s Applications for Diagnostics and Patient Management

Fighting a pandemic is a task that requires speed. Now more than ever, providers must be able to accurately and quickly identify infected patients so that they can trace and hopefully contain the viral spread. But doing so isn’t an easy order.

To borrow a quote from Forbes contributor Wendy Singer, “Analyzing test results nowadays requires skilled technicians and a lot of precious time, as much as a few days. But in our current reality, healthcare systems need to analyze thousands of results instantly, and to expose as few lab workers as possible to the virus.”

We don’t have that kind of time––and we can’t put our lab workers at undue risk. Thankfully, cutting-edge AI technologies may provide a solution. With AI, hospitals can automate some steps of the testing process, cutting down on the time and effort needed to process test results. These capabilities aren’t just hypothetical; in the weeks since the start of the pandemic, the health tech startup Diagnostics.ai has provided laboratories in the US and UK with a diagnostic tool that streamlines the testing process by automating DNA analysis.

However, the applications of AI diagnostics aren’t limited to testing alone. Some have also used artificial intelligence to support population management in overstretched hospitals. One Israeli medical-device developer, EarlySense, recently developed an AI-powered sensor that can identify which patients will most likely face complications like sepsis and respiratory failure within six to eight hours. This can give a hospital the information it needs to best allocate limited resources and staff attention.

No AI innovation — no matter how brilliant or helpful — will fix our resources shortfall. There is no question that healthcare providers need more PPE and support, or that they need it immediately. However, the benefits that AI provides to screen and patient management efforts are evident. It seems reasonable that we at least consider the weight the deployment of such tools could remove from our exhausted front-liners’ shoulders.

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COVID-19: How IoT can Save People. Solutions from WMW, Abeeway, and Actility.

Press Release, Hasselt / Paris, 07.04.2020

WMW, a Belgian “framework” for IoT, Abeeway, a location intelligence solution provider for IoT, and Actility, the leading provider of Low-Power WAN networking solutions, are launching several solutions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic at different stages, using various geolocation technologies and low-power IoT networks. 

The three companies have integrated their solutions: WMW is an adaptive registration dashboard with micro-modules, allowing them to visualize data from IoT devices and get valuable insights. The WMW solutions take inputs from Abeeway devices processed by ThingPark Location Engine, the fused location provider platform of Actility. 

There are 3 Solutions That are Offered:

Private Proximity Registration. Companies that want to return to work demand solutions to protect their employees. This kit provides a private network and personal trackers to maintain a dynamic virtual geofence around an employee at site level. Since we will have to be careful for several more months to come and our employees are our most important assets, this solution helps to prevent and warn against proximity.

MySpace Monitoring. Elderly people, that we would want to follow up a little closer, can be in closer contact with their caregivers or family. Panic buttons, sensors that monitor movement, energy, and even doors, can be used in hospitals and rest homes, but also for people who still live at home. This allows direct, but also indirect, anomalies to be reported and timely action can be taken.

Quarantine Monitoring. People who should live in (self) quarantine do not always follow the rules and sometimes dare to go outside their zone, posing a high risk of spreading the virus. This solution registers the breach and informs about it.

Deploying Technology Against COVID Spreading

The world of IoT is usually aimed at the visualization and big data of the things that our society uses to help an organization or industry to operate. Examples cover a very wide range such as Smart Waste, Smart Parking, and even Building Management. WMW is not just an IoT Platform, but more specifically a technology (framework) to build platforms. Thus, WMW has taken a step back to create greater flexibility and to allow them to build tailored applications fully focused on the “use case”. This flexibility is extended very far. For example, the WMW platform is device-agnostic, network-agnostic, database-agnostic, and is being used worldwide through partners.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve focused primarily on applications, derivatives of the 97 apps we’ve already built, that can handle various impacts and observations around Covid-19. Our resellers worldwide are close to their governments and this allows us to draw global conclusions that are not valid only in Belgium. Of course, it helps that we know a lot of device makers and that we can help inspire their strategy. After all, we report the questions from the market back to them.”

Bert Vanaken, CEO of WMW.

Abeeway offers a complete low-power indoor&outdoor fused geolocation solution for the Internet of Things that surpasses simple GPS. Through location intelligence, we enable efficient management of your mobile and fixed assets, protecting people and monitoring animals. We give organizations, industries, logistics companies, and the entire supply chain transparency and more effective processes. 

“Abeeway decided to contribute its extensive expertise in the field of low-power geolocation in order to help people, companies and hospitals in the fight against COVID-19. With the Abeeway tracking system, including miniature trackers and badge trackers, you can set automated alarms and geofence boundary alerts to register breaches, help people to remain  alert and allow proximity back-tracing.”

Olivier Hersent, Actility & Abeeway’s CEO

Worldwide Availability

These innovative solutions can be deployed everywhere on available LoRaWAN public networks or also using dedicated private networks. 

Actility‘s ThingPark Enterprise platform provides SaaS as well as on-site private IoT LoRaWAN network management. ThingPark is the market-leading LPWAN platform, deployed by over 50 service providers worldwide, and adapted to the needs of Enterprise use cases. It focuses on security, simplicity, and rapid deployment on campuses of any scale, providing seamless connectivity without dead zones for people safety or any other IoT use case.

About Abeeway, an Actility Group company 

Abeeway is the market leader in low-power indoor & outdoor fused geolocation and a provider of disruptive IoT tracking solutions worldwide. Abeeway offers the most energy-efficient, reliable, and flexible geolocation solutions using unique tracking devices and a smart Multi-technology location system optimized for long-range and low-power-consumption leveraging LoRaWAN™ connectivity. 

Abeeway is a member of LoRa Alliance™ and is an Actility group company.
URL: www.abeeway.com

About Actility 
Actility is a world leader in Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) industrial-grade connectivity solutions for the Internet of Things. Actility provides its ThingPark™ platform and network technology to deploy, operate, and maintain public and private wireless IoT networks within a unified, scalable, and versatile network infrastructure. The vast majority of nationwide LoRaWAN® network service providers (over 50) and hundreds of companies trust ThingPark™ all over the world. Through its subsidiary Abeeway, Actility also provides patented ultra-low-power tracking solutions. ThingPark Market offers the largest selection of interoperable IoT gateways, devices and applications to simplify and accelerate deployment of use cases.  
Website: www.actility.com 

About WMW 
WMW is a product of ClearDigital NV, a Belgian player in the IoT space. WMW is not an IoT platform, but a technology to build platforms. The library approach is unique in its kind and allows the development of applications, with maximum flexibility and tailoring towards customized use cases, in an extremely short time. It has produced over 100 applications already and is being sold worldwide by resellers and partners in the Telco world (such as Orange, NNNco, LRTC, …), and in the System Integrator world (such as SCSK – subsidiary of Sumitomo Corp, Capita, …).

URL: wmw-hub.com
ClearDigital NV – WMW
Bert Vanaken – CEO
+32 498 520 479

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Implementing IoT in Healthcare

Illustration: © IoT For AllThe Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly gaining popularity in all spheres of life, healthcare systems in particular. In a nutshell, the technology allows multiple connected devices to collect and share information with each other. What does this mean for healthcare?In fact, the applications are …

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How Mixed Reality Brings the Virtual Hospital to You

Illustration: © IoT For All

The field of healthcare is constantly revolutionizing. Although, there are many challenges that doctors and other medical professionals face in treating patients. The advancement in Microsoft’s HoloLens technology has brought a huge shift in how hospitals, medical clinics, and other modern healthcare setups deliver care to patients.

Major Challenges in Healthcare

Many hospitals and medical clinics still depend on traditional technologies to interact with patients and read paper charts to get an overview of a patient’s health condition. In many cases, neurosurgeons face difficulty in performing CT scans of the patient. It is because the CT scan causes claustrophobia to several patients due to the noise and the enclosed pattern of the machine. Also, doctors need medical scans and records for detailed analysis, but loading and modifying electronic medical records of thousands of patients is a bulky process.

A team of medical professionals consists of receptionists, nurses, doctors and other professionals who need seamless coordination with each other during patients’ treatment. Also, it becomes challenging for them to work as a team by relying on multiple devices for communication, recalling diagnostic charts and other data.

Mixed Reality – Working Wonders in the Healthcare Industry

The new version of Microsoft HoloLens has unveiled cutting-edge features that can impact the healthcare industry to a great extent. Let’s check out some of the ways in which these features are empowering medical professionals to improve the doctor-patient relationship.

Contextual Patient Data Visualization

MR headsets can detect patients and instantly provide relevant medical information to doctors, saving time during interactions and allowing doctors to respond to emergencies quicker than before. Just being able to observe a patient’s vital signs without having to read screens or derive paperwork can save a lot of valuable time and allow for more convenient patient interactions.

Also, using MR enables elderly patients to receive hospital-level care and treatment at home where they feel more comfortable and hospitals would also get a benefit of free hospital beds for other critically ill patients.

The HoloLens app is also helpful to patients who need to travel often due to frequent doctor appointments with specialists by saving their time and money while still delivering personalized care to them. This enables the health care facility to utilize the same amount of time for other critical patients.

Generally, mixed reality application enables real-time interaction with medical professionals via hologram technology. It also allows care providers to share information hands-free as well as record patient data in real-time via a virtual dashboard. This advancement combines real-life, video conferencing and projected holograms to facilitate nurses’ and clinicians’ in accessing information and services as and when needed.

Holographic Surgical Planning

The MR application provides Virtual Surgery Intelligence (VSI) to physicians to show patients their own MRI scans and explain the level of complication in a surgical procedure in a visual format. Not only that, but MR apps helps to reduce doctor’s response time and improve surgical accuracy, thereby offering an enhanced patient experience. For example, if a patient needs to undergo a complicated surgery, the doctor is able to show diagnostic images to the patient with the help of the VSI feature of mixed reality. This feature helps the patient and the doctor to share the same field of view (FOV). In this way, doctors can discuss, plan, and initiate their treatment procedure, thereby reducing response time in inpatient care.

Onsite/Remote Surgery Assistance

Furthermore, by wearing HoloLens, surgeons can have their hands free for surgery, as well as use microphones and sensors to communicate with other surgeons in different parts of the world making collaboration seamless. All these features including simulations and information extraction make mixed reality a valuable asset in improving surgical performance.

The Final Say

These are just some of the notable advantages of Microsoft HoloLens that prove that the future of healthcare is heavily reliant on mixed reality technology. These advancements make it feasible for medical professionals to hone their skills and attend hundreds of patients virtually without even touching them. Besides, using an MR application enables seamless collaboration between physical and digital objects to provide a better quality of treatment and patient experience. To know more about how to implement a HoloLens app for your healthcare organization, talk to our experts.

Source: IoT For All

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How Amazon Is Using IoT to Care for Its Employees

Illustration: © IoT For All

Of course, we already know about wearable devices people can use to track their heart rates, activity levels, fitness goals and more. In fact, some companies even incentivize employees to use those gadgets to get extra perks for being a worker who’s especially committed to their well-being.

However, Amazon is using IoT devices to give workers resources to use when they’re sick. It’s all happening through their new program called Amazon Care.

What Is Amazon Care?

Amazon Care is an extension of a traditional health insurance plan. The company is currently piloting it for some of its Seattle employees. People are eligible if they work at Amazon or are a dependant of someone who does, are enrolled in health insurance offered by the brand and work in one of the areas where the program is available.

This IoT-based benefit is a smartphone app that connects participants to the care they receive from medical professionals online or in-person. Amazon says one of the major advantages of this new service is that people can get the health care they need without sitting in waiting rooms.

People who sign up for Amazon Care can use it for their urgent care needs and sexual health concerns, as well as things related to preventive medicine including vaccinations and lab work. If someone’s getting ready to travel abroad and needs tips for staying healthy while there, an Amazon Care employee can provide those, too.

If a person’s diagnosis requires treatment with prescription medicine, a person called a Care Courier can bring it to a patient’s home or office, often within two hours. Alternatively, the prescription can be dispatched to a local pharmacy so the person can pick up the medication later.

How Does Amazon Care Work?

Once a person verifies their eligibility for Amazon Care, they’re ready to start using the service. It’s available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

After a user indicates that they have a health concern, the app screen gives them the choice of talking to a health care provider via text chat or video stream. The medical expert uses one of those methods to communicate with the person and find out more about what they need.

If the medical provider determines the app user needs a face-to-face evaluation, a health professional is dispatched to that person’s location. Also, the individual can look in the app and see a map of where the provider is, plus their estimated arrival time. Virtual doctors represented one of the top tech trends of 2019, and their popularity shows no signs of slowing.

People appreciate being able to use an app to see a doctor without leaving their homes. Many apps also have monitoring and messaging components, allowing doctors and patients to stay in touch outside of a medical facility.

Concerning Amazon Care specifically, there’s a care summary component of the app that gives the details of a person’s diagnosis, any notes from the doctor and their recommended treatment plan. If users prefer to see that content outside of the app, they can view the material as a PDF.

As someone uses the app, it’s also possible for them to fill out a profile that includes pertinent information, such as the patient’s health history and payment details.

The Future of Health Care

Although Amazon Care is still in the early stages and is only available to a limited number of employees, IoT will likely continue facilitating a move away from the traditional ways of receiving health care. No longer will patients have to drive to a medical practice and wait for a visit with a doctor. When someone’s feeling unwell, being in public is often one of the last things they want to do.

The option to stay at home and get health care through a connected device makes sense for patient convenience reasons. Conventional doctor’s offices won’t go out of business entirely, but people may start using them less often because they can, and they prefer it.

Analysts also think investments in these kinds of high-tech medical opportunities could cut costs for businesses. Numerous companies have exercised more control over health care for their workers, either through virtual visits or on-site health clinics.

In another recent example, Walmart urges people to use a dedicated app or website to guide their health needs. The brand’s system uses big data analysis to determine which providers in the network have histories of the best outcomes. People can then avail of reports about individual physicians, including those offering specialized care.

It’s easy to see how Walmart’s approach could save money for the company and lead to more satisfaction from patients. The people who need health care don’t have to spend as much time deciding which providers to see, and the fact that they’re encouraged to see top-performing professionals means Walmart’s health coverage won’t go toward doctors that might not give the best service.

IoT Medical Access Is Rising

A primary reason why IoT-driven medical care suits today’s society is that so many people have compatible gadgets. Getting sick happens, and access to care is crucial for helping people stay healthy. Given that many individuals keep smartphones within arm’s reach, it’s not surprising that leading enterprises — Amazon included — have decided to embrace IoT and explore how it could improve well-being.

Source: IoT For All

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How Wearables Have Infiltrated the Healthcare Market

A smart watch on a colorful background
Illustration: © IoT For All

An increasing demand from consumers to assess their health at any moment has driven the wearable industry’s massive expansion. FitBits, Garmin Forerunners and Apple Watches track personal information such as heart rate, step count and sleep, providing consumers with data in real-time.

Due to their convenience, these devices have become mainstream.

The wearable medical technology market continues to expand as consumer demand persists. More than 80 percent of consumers are willing to wear fitness technology. By the end of 2019, the global market for wearables is expected to grow by 15.3 percent more than in 2018.

The demand for wearables isn’t isolated to consumers. Rather, the technology’s transformative data usage has drawn the interest of businesses.

Companies are supplying employees with wearables to decrease healthcare costs and provide employees with personalized health information to support health consciousness.

As Technologies Advance, Fitness Trackers and Health Monitors Maintain Popularity

Smartwatches and fitness trackers have dominated the consumer wearable market and will continue to maintain a dominance despite an increasing diversification of wearable technologies.

In 2009, Fitbit debuted as the first wearable device. The earliest version of the product featured a single button that cycled through the display to analyze a consumer’s progress toward the 10,000 step goal.

Fitbit inaugurated the wristband craze in 2013. One year later, the company gained the majority of the activity-tracking marketplace.

The following year, the most popular wearable hit the market. Apple Watch debuted in 2015, eventually out-shipping the once most-popular fitness-tracking device—FitBit—in 2017.

Whereas the International Data Corporation found that wristbands will experience a negative growth rate in the coming years, smartwatches will continue to grow. By 2023, watches will account for nearly 50 percent of the entire wearables market.

Overall, the proliferation of various wearable technologies drives the market’s growth. New products and vendors—from Fossil to Louis Vuitton— are entering the market rapidly.

The global wearables market will swell to $54 billion by 2023.

More than half of people interested in buying wearable technology were interested in the devices to track physical activity and monitor personal health.

Wearables not only count steps and active minutes but also track sleep and monitor heart-rates 24/7. Most devices have improved their battery lives, increasing their viability and desirability as there are fewer reasons for consumers to take them off.

The devices have also improved their efficacy.

Wearables offer greater connectivity to social platforms, encouraging data sharing and fitness competition. By creating networks of support, consumers are more likely to meet their fitness goals.

Current wearables curate feedback to consumers’ individual habits. Rather than a set 10,000-step goal, devices now notify users when it senses they’re moving less than usual.

With product proliferation and technical improvements, wellness-related wearable technologies are expected to sustain growth as consumers continue to pursue healthier lifestyles.

Wearables Appeal to Businesses by Saving Health Insurance Costs

Businesses can decrease health care costs through personalizing insurance plans by providing employees with wearables. When a plan is catered to an individual, there are fewer unnecessary costs.

Wearables are no longer just counting steps, but also monitoring users’ blood pressures.

Omron Healthcare debuted the first wearable blood pressure monitor called the HeartGuide in 2019. Designed to look like an average smartwatch, the device acts as an oscillometric blood pressure monitor.

The wearable measures a user’s blood pressure and daily activity. The device can store up to 100 readings in its memory. At that point, users can transfer the readings to the corresponding mobile application: HeartAdvisor. Users can store, track and share data for review, comparison and treatment optimization.

One of the largest North American life insurers—John Hancock—will stop selling traditional life insurance policies. Instead, the provider will offer interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearables.

Policyholders who hit exercise targets will have access to premium discounts. Clients will also receive gift cards for workouts and healthy food purchases logged in the app. On the other hand, customers with high-risk habits such as smoking will pay higher premiums.

Wearables enable doctors to track patients remotely, reducing transport and readmission costs. Further, businesses can implement interactive healthcare policies to tailor their healthcare offerings. This can reduce the costs associated with traditional policies that provide blanket coverage.

Wearables provide new options for employee healthcare that incentivize healthy habits and reduce costs.

Healthcare Providers Leverage Wearable Medical Technology to Improve Medical Treatment

By tracking data, wearables enable businesses in the healthcare industry to apply personalized modifications to treatment plans. This allows healthcare providers to make more informed decisions and patients to receive better treatment.

Wearables provide doctors with more data regarding a user’s health. Rather than relying on patients to report symptoms, which can be incomplete or delayed, a wearable collects data indiscriminately and reports in real-time.

Unlike users, wearables don’t forget to track symptoms as a result of their biosensors. The technology provides providers with an extensive history to support more informed analysis and optimized care decisions.

Wearables can also encourage patient responsibility. Custom software solutions have grown to support patients’ adherence to a care routine. For example, a smart necklace has been proposed to detect user ingestion of a pill based on skin movement associated with swallowing.

The devices can also alert users when it’s time to take medication, track the times when it’s taken and notify doctors when a regimen isn’t followed. Medical professionals can adjust care options and predict potential health problems to prescribe cost-saving preventative measures rather than costly treatment options.

Healthcare providers can devise and execute more effective and cost-friendly care plans by implementing wearables.

Wearables Offer Opportunities for Improved, Cost-Effective Care and Healthier Choices

Wearable medical technology has made a large impact on how people can understand and track health information.

As wearables provide personalized health information, businesses can leverage their popularity among consumers to improve employees’ health and healthcare.

The greater and more accurate information wearables track offers opportunities for companies to personalize health care plans. Personalized plans are more cost-effective for consumers and businesses.

Written by Kate Russell, Content & Editorial Associate, Clutch
Source: IoT For All