At Mainspring, we strive to identify real problems in the healthcare industry and work with likeminded partners to utilize versatile Internet of Things (IoT) technology to develop innovative solutions. We create closed loop workflows, designed with multiple automated and manual inputs. Sensors placed on medical devices allow for automated data collection, giving hospitals insights into where things are and what condition they’re in. Different things in the hospital have different requirements for being connected to humans via the internet. Some challenges can be simply resolved by locating the assets using active RTLS or Passive RFID, while others need to also send information such as temperature/humidity and utilization.
I was visiting a new client recently, discussing a project we were doing at their hospital to clean up their equipment data. While looking at some of the data in their legacy system, we saw many inconsistencies and mistakes that had managed to creep into the database through the day-to-day activities of the users over the years. For example, they had several device types, manufacturers and models describing a single piece of equipment, which was causing inventory reports on that equipment to be incorrect. With multiple naming conventions for one specific piece of equipment, it was difficult to manage recalls and alerts, because the database had to be manually screened to find everything affected. It was even more concerning that the inconsistencies in the data caused problems in preventative maintenance scheduling for the equipment.
We live in an information age where reliable data is everything. Informed decision making with technology and the data behind it is not just a smart choice, but a way of life for most of us. Better and faster information is available at our fingertips, and it’s making our lives easier. Technology plays a major role in delivering that information, but we often forget that in most cases, technology relies significantly on other humans to provide that information in the first place.
This year marks my 10th anniversary working on wireless tracking technologies. As a young electrical engineering student intrigued by all things wireless, my first encounter with radio frequency tracking was during a research assistantship at the University of Maryland, where I evaluated technologies for improving supply chain automation. I was blown away by the fact that a Band-Aid-sized electronic sensor could essentially make anything in physical space identifiable in the digital world. The terms "Internet of Things" and “IoT” were not commonly used back then.
From a ten-thousand-foot view, the technological nuances of wireless tracking can be intimidating, but once the basics are understood, it can be an extremely powerful tool. Notice the use of the word “tool”, because that’s exactly what wireless tracking is—an enabling tool and not an entire solution. In this blog, I break down the concepts of RFID and RTLS, the advantages and disadvantages of both, and their role in automation, specifically how it pertains to hospital workflow.
Remember 2001, when e-commerce was in its infancy? “Click-to-Buy” typically meant a follow-up call to ensure that the order went through; and many more to figure out where your order was. Amazon changed that game to the point that when you Click-to-Buy today, you are sure that your order will show up as planned—or earlier.
Amazon is looking to shake up e-commerce again. The company recently announced same day delivery in major metropolitan markets. It is an impressive feat, considering they have millions of products delivered from thousands of vendors to millions of consumers. The successful implementation of this idea requires the players to employ a cross-functional approach, with deep planning, investment in IT, along with strong ties and good rapport with transportation partners.