Is IoT Technology Making the Internet Irrelevant?

Medical Device Field Service Perspective

As information technology continues to develop and reinvent itself, old technology is declared irrelevant and replaced. The same can be argued for the Internet. We are now at the point where most of the 7 billion plus people in the world are in some way connected to the Internet. However, in an ever changing landscape, medical device companies must consider how changes in technology will transform their business, and what the next revolutionary development will be.

Analysts believe that the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the next big wave of advancement. IoT currently consists of an estimated 12 billion connected devices around the world that are not used to directly access the web. These devices can be anything from automobiles, implants, watches, or sensors. The intelligence added to these devices merge the digital and physical worlds. Google Chairman and ex-CEO Eric Schmidt explains the shift toward every man-made object being connected to the cloud with his prediction that the internet will disappear and be replaced with IoT.

“There will be so many IP addresses … so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”

The number of devices connected to the internet is expected to grow from 12 billion to 50 billion by 2020, well over the number of humans in the population. That leaves us with the question, how will that change the medical device field service industry? Right now, the growing demand to deploy IoT into the industry is driven by the desire to increase operational efficiencies, find cost reductions, and raise customer satisfaction. Here are some of the biggest changes the medical device field service industry will see because of the Internet of Things.

Predictive Maintenance

The medical device field service industry currently operates in an innately reactive over proactive environment. A medical practitioner must first notice a device isn’t functioning before they can contact the field service department to fix the problem.

With the insight that IoT will give into equipment performance, field service agencies will be able to receive real-time status reports from all the equipment and be prepared to resolve issues before they arise. Manufacturers can set parameters and alerts that will automatically dispatch technicians to address the issue. The alert can relay information such as repair history, customer information, and other vital information that will result in the technician being able to address the issue before it becomes a larger problem.  This not only results in increased operational efficiencies, cost reductions, and customer satisfaction – it can also prevent lifesaving medical equipment from failing.

Remote Diagnosis and Repairs

With IoT sensors in the devices that can activate a work order automatically when it is not functioning correctly and order system parts with no human interaction, the potential to increase efficiency for repairs is higher than ever before.

Ultimately, as IoT continues to advance, the potential for efficiency increases as the ability to diagnose and repair devices remotely is made possible. The combined prospective for wearable technology, remote software updates, and expansion of IoT would allow diagnosis and repairs to be done from a smartwatch or phone.

Transformation of the Technician

The traditional workflow of dispatching technicians for repairs would reduce as predictive maintenance and remote diagnosis and repairs increase efficiencies. Instead, technicians would be able to focus more on technical approaches to repairs reducing the time required to complete the job and therefore the cost and disruption to clients.

Increased Quality

IoT technology allows for reporting and insights into equipment performance can guide future engineering and improve the quality of the device.

Additionally, through IoT, connected devices can communicate with one another, enhancing their collective performance. Field service engineers will use this to attain a complete analysis of their collective devices simultaneously. With this new holistic view, devices can be offered as a package of connected equipment with related services that can communicate with each other to run more efficiently.

Conclusion

IoT technology is enhancing device performance with increased operational efficiencies, cost reductions, and higher customer satisfaction. As the healthcare industry moves toward a more connected environment, medical device field service professionals have to be ready to offer access to the increasingly connected devices. IoT is one of the many topics that will be discussed at the Medical Device Field Service Conference.

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