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Internet of Things in health equipment

When it comes to the health, everything else takes a back seat. Heath equipment plays a greater role to understand the state of our health. A small malfunctioning in the equipment, whether it is diagnostic equipment or life support systems, can cause life of the patient. Therefore, it is utmost important to keep equipment fit and running round the clock.

Traditionally, periodic preventive maintenance are planned to keep the equipment up and running. But many times servicing of the equipment depends on usage and surrounding environment like temperature, voltage fluctuations, humidity etc. rather than elapsed time. Therefore periodic maintenance may either fall short of the actual service requirement or could turn out to be unwanted service. In such cases, conditional servicing of the equipment could be more optimized and cost effective.

Conditional service is based on the real time performance monitoring and pattern analysis of various parameters of the equipment. The actual equipment condition is continuously assessed by collecting device parameters such as temperature, vibration, noise level, running hours etc. Maintenance is taken up when certain parameters are out of the prescribed range or deteriorating gradually. This approach, in long term, reduces drastically the costs associated with maintenance services, as well as minimize occurrence of serious faults and optimize resource management.
But continuous monitoring of the equipment parameter for all equipment manually at various geographical locations is not economical and practical. You need to physically deploy one person at installation site to collect the parameter and send it to central server for analysis and corrective action.

Because of technological advancement, it has now become possible and affordable to use multiple channels of communications and interface devices for seamless and automatic communication between heterogeneous devices without any human intervention.

Internet of Thing is one of the examples to enable such communication from one device to other. It can play a big role in automating frequent collection of parameter value of equipment remotely. It can be achieved by installation of some small additional hardware and software at appropriate critical equipment. Some of the modern equipment are already equipped with inbuilt communication devices which can read data from equipment and transmit it using any one or combination of Bluetooth, Radio waves, GSM and GPRS communication. Using above interface, the parameter values can be sent to central server. Where values of various parameters can be analyzed and equipment health can be published on dashboard or alert can be sent to concerned service team for alarming parameter values.
Some of the equipment allows interactive communication and can change its own behavior by accepting remote instruction like switching on / switching off or locking / unlocking etc.

The writer is Mr. Dinesh Singh, CTO, Quest Informatics.


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