Remote enablement: A new age for patient monitoring systems

Not long ago, the bedside monitor did exactly as its name implied – monitored vitals and alerted clinicians of changes, strictly from the bedsides of patients.

Today, the bedside monitor is part of a far more sophisticated clinical information ecosystem enabled by networked technology.

Remotely accessing the patient monitoring system to ensure optimal performance and productivity can be defined as remote enablement. It allows for a timely and comprehensive view of device status and statistics across the patient monitoring clinical network. Through application performance management tools, remote enablement provides biomed and IT specialists with actionable insights that allow for improved overall fault diagnosis and troubleshooting, encourages a secure medical device environment through standardization and device inventory, and continuous improvement through benchmarking and new business models.

Diving into diagnostics
The introduction of technology has undoubtedly transformed healthcare, but like anything, it comes with its own set of challenges. Traditionally, a technical issue within a hospital’s system would warrant a call to a support center and the dispatch of a technician. In many cases, the technician can fix the immediate issue, but as health systems grow in complexity and size, these issues are often a symptom of other problems within the patient monitoring network.

Through remote enablement, technicians can perform diagnostics across entire patient monitoring systems, enabling a more systematic approach. This approach to troubleshooting allows technicians to identify the root cause of the issue promptly and reducing the time to overall resolution. In high cost environments like the intensive care unit (ICU), this maximized uptime can be critical to improving overall productivity of the unit.

As we look ahead, remote enablement also holds the promise of proactive support diagnostics. For example, in addition to faster troubleshooting, combining artificial intelligence (AI) with remote enablement could help predict potential issues before they occur. Whether addressing something as simple as a potential failure due to insufficient disk space, or something as sophisticated as using machine learning to examine system performance signatures, the ability to anticipate downtime and improve utilization will prove invaluable to hospitals as they maximize productivity, reduce the costs of care delivery and achieve the quadruple aim.

Staying current to stay secure
A large health system can have many different networked devices that make up the patient monitoring system. With the increasing frequency of device and operating system software updates it can be complex to ensure all devices are up-to-date. This is another area in which remote enablement can help alleviate and transform how the industry is managing an increasingly challenging pain point.

Through remotely enabled device management solutions, health systems can easily track device inventory and identify necessary software updates across the hospital’s infrastructure. As the threat of cyberattacks continues to grow, this visibility into device inventory and the operational status of devices on the clinical network helps to identify vulnerabilities early on and is especially valuable.

Beyond helping to maintain a detailed device and software revision inventory, remote enablement also allows health systems to push out patient monitoring system updates remotely as they become available. Large-scale integrated delivery networks (IDNs) typically house more than 1,000 servers as part of their network, making the task of keeping an entire fleet current with monthly operating system updates a challenge. The ability to remotely update all devices both saves time and helps ensure that a patient monitoring system is as safeguarded as possible against potential threats.

Identifying room for growth
In addition to keeping up with evolving software standards and new threats that arise, remote enablement promotes continuous performance improvement and benchmarking. For example, in the future it will be possible to pull reports that cover the configuration of connected patient monitors within a system, which is extremely valuable in enabling clinical standardization, improving staff training programs, and more consistent patient care.

Remotely monitoring the usage of all patient monitoring devices across a system also allows for more efficient strategies to be developed that provide hospitals with utilization-based business models to access to the latest technologies. As the healthcare industry continues to seek to better match costs with reimbursements, the ability to access technology based on utilization allows a much better association between costs and fees for patient treatment.

Implementing the future of patient monitoring systems
Information systems across industries are continuing to grow in their interconnectivity, and healthcare is no exception. As patient monitoring evolves from siloed devices to highly-integrated clinical IT systems, the combination of improved diagnostics, simpler cyber security strategies and new operationally-based business models through remote enablement will continue to reshape the modern patient monitoring system as we know it.

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