Opening Doors to the Internet of Everything ( IoE ) in Healthcare
The explosion of smart devices, analytics engines, big data, and internet connectivity have thrown open the doors to an incredible set of business opportunities in Healthcare. Companies and institutions are recognizing that the Internet of Everything ( IoE ) has to be an essential chapter in their Digital Transformation Playbook, and in many cases a basic requirement for their business.
There is a bewildering selection of devices and systems that collect and communicate data to systems that are not capable of tying it together and providing the proper analytics. Big Data has given us a means for crunching ‘lakes’ of information and that too in near real time. But when it comes to capitalizing on these opportunities, we barely scratch the surface of what is possible in most industries. Nowhere is this more true than in the Healthcare space, so I decided to talk with Vinnie Polito, a Healthcare Consultant and the head of Group50’s Healthcare Consulting practice, in a conversation to identify how Group50’s five step IoE implementation strategy could enable organizations to address some of the opportunities and challenges in this space.
Vinnie, your pioneering work on applying Lean techniques and tools in Healthcare has helped over 100 hospitals, physicians/specialty practices, insurance health plans and home health systems in North America realize some pretty dramatic efficiencies and cost reductions through process reengineering. How do you think the Internet of Everything (IoE) could facilitate this work further, and why is it that it continues to be such an under-leveraged tool?
“First of all, let us recognize that Healthcare covers a very wide range of players and environments including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, clinics, doctor’s offices, home healthcare, insurance providers and a host of others. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll focus on hospitals. Understanding their challenges will uncover why the IoE potential is not better realized. The first challenge that healthcare practitioners encounter is knowing where to start with IoE. Clinical personnel keep a laser focus on delivering quality care to patients, while the administrator’s mission is to run operations as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. When an IOT vendor approaches them with state of the art sensors, beacons, pumps, EKG’s and other interconnectable devices, they then have to take precious cycles out of their primary functions to find how and where to fit this technology into their particular environment. The solution needs to address quality of care as well as operational efficiency issues. An often missing piece of the vendor offering is a strategic consulting service with a deep understanding of the healthcare ecosystem and workflows; someone who can detect the business goals or problems as applied to their environment, then finds, designs, and implements the right solutions for them.”
That’s very true Vinnie, and it’s a challenge that’s shared by many other verticals. That’s why the Group50 Healthcare IoE assessment always starts with understanding the organizations goals and objectives then capturing the clinician, administrator, and patient experience as they go about executing their day to day functions or receive care.
At the heart of IoE is the collection of data from any interconnected device and processing it into actionable means of process innovation and improvement. One thinks of all the devices and systems in hospitals that must capture a wealth of information, and you have to wonder why this hasn’t made such organizations prime candidates for IoE?
“That’s a very good question, Shirish. Consider the In-patient journey, a core workflow in any hospital. There is a host of clinical and administrative data that is collected by various devices and EMR systems every step along the way. However this data is often compartmentalized and is not always easily accessible by the people who need it and available when they need it. Sometimes it’s the type of equipment that prevents data collection and sharing or the limitations of the existing IT infrastructure that isn’t capable of providing suitable analytics. This is why I like how the Group50 IoE assessment captures not only the workflow and patient journey bottlenecks, but also carefully inventories all relevant data sources – devices and systems. Once done, our subject matter experts compare the current state capabilities against industry best practices and tools. Why reinvent a part of the solution that already exists?
For further opportunities note how two things jump out from the In-Patient Work Flow in the block diagram below.
- Data collected at various stages of this flow is required for the successful execution of many later stages, but not always readily available. For example, much of the information collected during patient registration and admission is also a prerequisite for discharge, but not always easily accessible. Patient vital signs are measured again and again at many of the early steps of the flow; at times out of necessity, sometimes because previous measurements are not readily available. Smart wearables can collect and present this information on demand, freeing up the most valuable resources in a hospital, namely the human ones.
- While we call this workflow a patient journey, the patient is in many places during their hospital stay and serviced by a great number of medical staff and equipment. Ask a doctor or nurse how much time is spent waiting for a piece of equipment, person, patient, availability of facilities such as operating rooms, PACU (post-anesthesia care unit), delivery rooms, etc. Sometimes a piece of equipment can’t be found. Sometimes it has been forgotten in a closet somewhere and missed needed cleaning or calibration and can’t be used when it is
These two scenarios are not only frustrating to patient and caregiver, but also extend the Average Length Of Stay (ALOS). I gather from some of my hospital CFO clients that if we were to leverage IoE to optimize the in-patient workflow by collecting, analyzing and sharing data, tracking equipment, people, and room availability and shave just 2/10ths of a day from the Average Length of Stay, a medium to large hospital might easily save $130,000 per day. While this eases aggravation for patients and a super busy staff it can also significantly impact patient outcomes.”
Based on that financial outcome, it would seem that IoE should be a huge priority for the entire healthcare industry.
In order to help the industry realize benefits like these, Group50 has developed a 5 step process for identifying how IoE opportunities can be identified and implemented. That process is shown below.
The most important first step is to do an assessment of the current state, documenting the current workflow, doing a people, place and things inventory. Through cross-functional partnerships, Group50 has developed an IoE reference library of workflows, value stream maps, patient journey maps, and industry best practices. These are supplemented by assessment questionnaires that we can apply to specific client situations allowing us to quickly identify the strategic and operational gaps for a particular client environment or workflow. This also speeds up the process of designing the appropriate solution and selecting the right components and technology providers needed for its implementation.
The second step is to create an implementation roadmap that focuses on recommending workflow and technology changes that will minimize disruption, maximize ROI and help the client quickly achieve their primary goals and objectives. The implementation roadmap provided helps clients understand what to expect and when, further streamlines collaboration and communication and provides a change management strategy for implementation.
The third step sets up the infrastructure and develops a working prototype of all the components for a field assessment of the design. This step provides the ability to validate the assumptions made in steps 1 and 2. This is where we (Group50 and the client) begin to create a data layer to which analytics can be applied.
The goal of the fourth step is to verify that the analytics from the data collected are valid and actionable. During this step, the working team begins thinking about the appropriate KPI’s and formulate new workflows based on the analytics.
Step 5 consists of a series of Group50 led workshops that are designed for developing a detailed understanding of the results of the analytics, make any required workflow design changes to optimize performance and finalize all documentation and change management requirements. The process culminates with the delivery of an optimized workflow, an IoE design consisting of verified components and operating work instructions along with the measures and metrics for ready visibility into the efficiency of the process.
Group50 only offers IoE consulting services in verticals where we have deep domain expertise to complement our established capabilities in strategic planning and execution, organizational development, and digital and information technology. Clients don’t have to spend extra time familiarizing a vendor with the workings of their industry. They will always have a Group50 ombudsman from their field who understands their ecosystem and speaks their language.
If you are in any part of the healthcare industry and would like to discuss optimizing your core processes, improve quality of service and reduce costs using the Internet of Everything, please join Vinnie and me in this discussion. Group50 can work with you to craft a solution and engage the right technology partners for the components and implementation. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact the head of our Digital Technology Practice, Shirish Néné at email@example.com or call him at 703-201-3936. Vinnie Polito the head of our Healthcare Practice may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 315-720-8552.
About the Author: Shirish Néné is the head of Group50’s Digital Technology Practice. Shirish and the Group50 team are veteran executives with a track record of melding people, process, and technology into game changing strategies and tactical advances across a wide range of industries, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 50 companies. Our experience is reflected in a field-tested methodology and framework for establishing Digital Technology in its natural role of a strategic corporate asset. Our perspective from the trenches to the boardroom has instilled in us a respect for, and the ability to fit into a variety of corporate cultures. #group50, #healthcareconsulting, healthcare consulting firm, #healthcare, healthcare consultant
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