In Blog Articles, Healthcare

In work or personal life, one of the most frustrating things we can encounter is untapped potential: the teammate who underperforms, the company that announces a poor strategic decision, the technology that just won’t do what it could or should, etc.

Recently, I was privileged to co-host a webinar called Using New Mobile Technologies to Enhance Patient Experience alongside industry leaders from Mist Systems, Mission Health System, Houston Methodist and HIMSS Media. We talked about untapped potential in the healthcare industry, where it’s no secret that indoor location technology has not even scratched the surface of all of its potentially transformative use cases. Let’s explore what’s getting in the way, and what the solution hospitals really need actually looks like.

Location Tech in Healthcare: The Big Picture’s Been Just Out of Reach

There are so many tantalizing location tech use cases for the healthcare industry—wayfinding, condition monitoring, equipment and patient tracking, workflow optimization, appointment reminders, patient engagement and more. But a variety of factors have prevented hospitals from realizing the full benefits of this technology.

  • Hardware limitations: Health systems have tried many different hardware approaches, but none have achieved widespread adoption. Wi-Fi-based systems don’t always deliver the necessary accuracy, physical beacons require installation and ongoing maintenance, and any wayfinding solution that doesn’t leverage Wi-Fi or low energy Bluetooth (BLE) requires purchasing and deploying additional tags.
  • Software limitations: Many forward-thinking organizations have deployed point solutions for wayfinding and asset tracking, only to end up frustrated. These point solutions suffer from limited functionality, lack of interoperability (barriers to integration), hardware compatibility limitations and a slew of other issues.
  • Budget limitations: Many health systems have large investments in technology infrastructure (Wi-Fi, BLE, etc.), only to find that each new use case requires bolting on yet another costly single-use solution. They need a flexible mobile solution that can work with multiple hardware providers, integrate with other software as necessary and provide a platform to support future, sometimes unforeseen, use cases.

The Solution? Bringing Hardware and Software Together on Mobile

For hospitals, a flexible, future-proof mobile solution requires a complex interplay of hardware, software and humans. The ideal solution consists of:

  • A scalable front-end hardware stack capable of generating extremely accurate location data for equipment, patients and staff.
  • A flexible software back end that can fuse location data from any hardware provider and render on the map for the app user.
  • The ability to integrate with hospital systems such as appointment scheduling, EMR/EHR management and others to meet the full spectrum of patient, visitor and business needs.

Up to this point, it has been very difficult for hospitals to find a single solution that addresses all three legs of this proverbial stool. Thankfully, technology advancements like Mist’s virtual beacon solution, announced last year, are beginning to break the ice. (Disclaimer: both Phunware and Mist are Cisco partners. Bonus: integration with existing Cisco infrastructure is seamless.)

In the webinar I mentioned above, I got to talk with Houston Methodist and Mission Health about how they’re using location technology today and their vision for the future with virtual BLE. Download the recording to hear their stories and get a closer look at the details of Mist’s technology and the ways Phunware’s platform can make the most of it in the healthcare space.


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