University of North Dakota Leverages IoT to Revitalize Medical Facilities

Create: 12/06/2017 - 18:51
Avi Systems Healthcare

Photo: University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Science

The University of North Dakota (UND) has the state’s only medical school program and admits 78 students per year into its four-year program, which educates medical doctors as well as occupational and physical therapists. When the university needed help solving challenges in its facilities, it turned to IoT technology and solution provider  AVI Systems. Originally founded in Bismark, ND in 1974, AVI was able to bring the winning combination of local familiarity and global experience to the project.

AVI Systems was tasked with finding an efficient way to accelerate collaboration and synergy between disparate locations and equipment. The separation of programs on campus left UND’s faculty, staff and students split between multiple buildings and isolated to specific areas. Because of this division, those who were a part of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) faced significant limitations when it came to collaborating with one another.

Rigid lab spaces did not allow for the flexibility researchers needed, while the arrangement of equipment in work spaces within the labs made them even more individualized. This was made worse by the fact that the office space for faculty and staff encroached on the lab area, which further limited what could be done. Adding to the complications, the school’s Simulation Center lacked much-needed space for both students and faculty.

Building the Best Solution

The solutions needed for the facility were more complex than simply updating lab equipment or adding furniture. The new building needed to accommodate larger classroom sizes and provide the audiovisual (AV) technology solutions needed to efficiently and effectively educate competent, qualified healthcare professionals.

Additionally, the building needed to facilitate easier communication and socializing between students from different disciplines, while enabling the school’s faculty and staff to collaborate with greater ease. All of this led to UND’s four-pronged plan, the “Healthcare Workforce Initiative,” which addresses the state’s healthcare workforce needs, including reducing the burden on disease, retaining more graduates in North Dakota and improving the healthcare delivery system.

Fortunately for the university, the funding for the project was there, as a shortage of healthcare workers had prompted the North Dakota Legislature to approve $123.7 million in funding to build a new, 325,000 sq. ft. SMHS building. The approval set a record, being the largest state-funded building project in North Dakota.  

AVI Delivers Essential IoT-powered Components

To achieve its goals, the school needed a vast improvement in its infrastructure, including AV technology solutions. In addition to the help of local and national architects and construction companies, AVI Systems was tapped as the solution provider that could best deliver the AV and IoT connected capabilities that would allow the university to realize its goals for the future.

The new building layout was constructed in a north-south design with classrooms and small-group rooms lining its “Main Street.” In addition, it features open collaboration spaces with built-in connectivity. This layout acts as a bridge between the east and west sides of the building, which house faculty and research.

The new design provides much more flexibility, making it easy for the lab to grow or shrink to give students and faculty more or less room depending on the needs of the individual project. Other changes such as moving lab equipment into a centralized area for better access helped improve the efficiency of the space as well. These improvements translate into a more user-friendly, collaborative space, one where students can fluidly utilize the equipment.  

Practice Makes Perfect

Much-needed updates to the university’s Simulation Center have greatly improved the work being done within the facility. The updates incorporated six simulation rooms—two more than the old Simulation Center—14 standardized patient exam rooms and five debriefing rooms, which are equipped with displays for video conferencing. 

Avi Systems

Photo: AVI Systems

Part of the simulation suites are multiple high-tech manikins and computer technology that simulates real-life patients, helping prepare UND’s students for the numerous scenarios they are likely to face as healthcare professionals serving their community.

The suites’ built-in monitors and video solutions make it possible for faculty to critically analyze and evaluate the students’ performances and capabilities during such simulations. Video footage can also be played back after simulations have been completed, enabling students to gain greater insight

Thanks to the new AV technology upgrades, collaboration throughout the building is easier than ever before. With many of the classrooms now able to facilitate more active learning, the school has seen a positive impact on student learning outcomes, according to Gwen Halaas, UND’s senior associate dean of education.

Increasing the Dosage of IoT

With technology consistently available throughout the new building, the ability to find a connection and take advantage of the new and existing solutions can now be achieved quickly and easily. All classrooms are outfitted with smart classroom technology, which includes scheduling and monitoring capabilities, interactive discussion tables, large-screen projectors, streaming and more.

The design and implementation of the new facility’s IoT-powered technology solutions have revitalized the way students, faculty and staff work together and interact with one another on a daily basis.

A Healthy Future for IoT

Supporting Minimally Invasive Surgery the Smart Way

Create: 10/30/2017 - 17:54

Photo: Diversified


Surgeons, hospitals and patients typically are all on the same page when it comes to going into the operating room (OR): the less invasive the surgery, the faster the healing process. One tool that frequently comes into play on the operating table—the endoscope—is getting an IoT assist.

The endoscope is what makes it possible to monitor and guide specific, robotic instruments used for minimally invasive surgical procedures. In turn, it is dependent upon the monitoring equipment installed in the OR. Although federal regulations enforce minimum standards for equipment safety, when it comes to the sharpness of the images produced and the simplicity of the system’s operation, that varies from hospital to hospital and even OR to OR.

IoT technologies are improving the situation by ensuring that high-resolution surgical images are automatically saved—often to a secure cloud location that can be accessed from wherever, whenever needed.

Southwest Surgical Center

Southwest Surgical Center, an orthopedic medical clinic in Edina, MN, that provides arthroscopic joint repair and other surgical services, depends on endoscopic technologies in a big way. The devices support the centers commitment to minimally invasive procedures.

Outstanding video for the center’s surgeons and simplified video routing and control for OR staff during procedures is a necessity, and the team wanted a superior solution to replace its current technology.

Diversified, a technology integration partner based in Kenilworth, NJ, with deep experience in custom-designed video systems for operating rooms, was tapped by the surgical center to provide the superior video quality and simplified video routing and system control it sought.    

Photo: Diversified

The integrator’s solution included custom software, medical-grade LCD displays and the hardware to attach the displays to the client’s overhead boom system, a control system, and transport and switching. To make long surgeries more pleasant for the staff and surgeons, the solution also included a high-quality sound system.

Diversified selected software features that were the most useful in a surgical environment. The result was an extremely flexible system, one easily scaled and customized to the specifications of each surgeon and surgery, providing the ability to quickly turn features on and off and choose the most appropriate hardware with ease. To ensure even further flexibility, the Diversified solution’s digital network technology is scalable as well, enabling adjustments to the size of the control processor, switcher and other components with little or no change to the software.

Choosing the Best Technology Components

To meet Southwest Surgical’s goals, Diversified installed a Crestron DigitalMedia (DM) network with a 16×16 switcher, a medical-grade monitor for the surgeon’s use, another for the nurses’ use and a video capture device to record images from the procedure. A nurse controls the video system and the room lighting using a 19” medical grade touch screen tied into a Crestron control processor.

CompView, a Diversified company, also installed four auxiliary wall plates, so the surgical team can plug in specialized instruments that may not already be installed in the overhead boom.

One of the drivers for choosing Crestron DigitalMedia (DM) technology for the solution was that the majority of hospitals and clinics tend to have a lot of legacy instruments that may have SDI, S-video or even composite video outputs.

“DM allows us to connect any medical instrument with a video output and provide the best possible images,” said Rodger De George, VP of Business Development for Medical Systems at Diversified. In addition, the twisted-pair network cable standard to DM is easy to install in the limited space in an operating room equipment boom. Its ability to transport and switch high-end audio was a big plus in its favor as well.

Diversified programmed the system so that when the team captures an image from the endoscope, it appears briefly, picture-in-picture on the surgeon’s monitor to confirm what was captured. Next, it is saved automatically to the clinic’s PAC [Picture/Archive/Communications] system to become part of the patient’s record.

Southwest Surgical’s staff is very pleased with the upgraded solution. “Once the first OR was installed and operating, they came back and asked us to install a similar system in the second,” De George explains. “The video system worked so much better, they saw it as a major advantage for their surgeons.”

Add IoT to the OR, STAT

IoT Remote Health Solution Connects Patients to Providers

Create: 10/26/2017 - 16:38
IoT healthcare remote Intel

Photo: Intel Health Application Platform for Remote Healthcare


As healthcare costs escalate, delivery providers are looking for new, cost-effective ways to manage health delivery. With the advent of IoT, the healthcare industry is moving toward remote health care usage models, which encompass a variety of care modalities provided to patients outside of a clinical setting.

According to data reported by Intel in this infographic, managing patients with serious or chronic conditions using remote care platforms can reduce hospital admissions by 40 percent and reduce readmission rates by 75 percent. Taking those numbers into consideration, remote care can lower U.S. employer health care costs by as much as $6 billion a year, according to healthcare consultancy Willis Towers Watson.

Despite the enormous cost-cutting potential for IoT-based remote health tools, mainstream adoption faces many challenges. For example, patients today have several commercially available methods to check their blood pressure or glucose levels from home. From their smartphones or tablets, patients can send data to their health care providers for evaluation.

While convenient for patients, these general-purpose consumer devices can become unstable or unreliable as operating systems or applications are updated. On the backend, health care solution providers, hospitals and physicians frequently grapple with incompatible technologies, stringent regulatory and compliance guidelines, and issues of data security and privacy.

Secure Healthcare Platform

In response to these issues and the growing need for better remote healthcare solutions, Intel has launched the Intel Health Application Platform (Intel® HAP). This application software platform can be used by remote care solution providers to enable a variety of remote health care usage models.

Health care solution providers can securely deliver services across an always-connected and ever-expanding health care edge, and to any cloud. To make the Intel HAP platform readily available to solution providers, Intel has collaborated with Flex, the Sketch-to-Scale™ solutions provider based in San Jose, CA.

The two companies created an IoT compute engine offering an intelligent, connected edge device that provides wireless connectivity to verified peripherals, including blood pressure and glucose monitors, pulse oximeters, weight scales and more. This platform will enable health care solution providers to bring transformative remote care solutions to market more quickly.

home healthcare IoT

Photo: Intel Health Application Platform for Remote Healthcare

When combined with a third-party hardware design, the Intel HAP “can empower the healthcare industry to develop novel products and services that require enterprise-grade stability, security and longevity, all while lowering TCO and delivering better user experiences,” says David Ryan, general manager, health and life sciences sector, Internet of Things group, Intel.

Healthcare Out of the Box

Intel notes that once configured by the healthcare solution provider, solutions based on the IoT compute engine can work right out of the box. After receipt from their care provider, the equipment only needs to be plugged in by patients and their families to get it up and running.

The equipment contains an interactive user interface that automatically displays a notice, so users know when the battery needs charging. A bright light on the device confirms that data is being transmitted, allowing for hands-free use by patients. The solution ensures data security both at the hardware and software levels. Additionally, hospitals and physicians will be able to retain ownership of the data that can be stored in—and accessed through—legacy infrastructure, keeping their own compliance processes in place.

This platform is one way solution providers can step in and address some of the challenges in healthcare delivery—an aging population, rising costs of using outdated infrastructure, and incompatible remote monitoring tools and technologies. Hopefully, for remote delivery of healthcare, the IoT will turn out to be just what the doctor ordered. 

Give Remote Healthcare a New Edge

  • Learn more about the Intel Health Application Platform and Flex IoT Compute Engine.
  •  Download the Intel and Flex business brief: Enabling Healthcare Innovation at the Edge.
  • Jonathan Ballon, vice president and general manager of the Intel IoT Group, will speak about the disruptive nature of remote care and the need for its adoption as a new standard of care during his keynote at the Connected Health Conference on October 26, 2017. To hear what he and other healthcare delivery experts are discussing, visit the Connected Health Conference.


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