Jim Beinlich, Associate Vice President – I/T Entity Services, Corporate Information Services, Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, discussed the Internet of Things (IoT) and its impact on healthcare in his keynote presentation at the 2017 Technology Innovation in Healthcare Forum in New York City on April 25. In his presentation, "IoT and Disruptive Technologies in Healthcare," Beinlich explored various technologies that are driving disruption in healthcare.
According to Beinlich, many healthcare professionals use the terms innovation and invention to promote transformation across their respective organizations. However, these terms often have very different definitions.
"Innovation and invention are two terms that a lot of people use interchangeably," Beinlich said. "But if people think innovation is inventing, then the bar is pretty high, and that's pretty tough to achieve."
Ultimately, innovation can come from any person at any level within a healthcare organization, Beinlich indicated. Even a simple change can lead to long-lasting improvements in healthcare treatments, patient and doctor partnerships and much more.
"[An innovation] doesn't have to be a huge idea. It can be something that is simple," Beinlich stated.
Although many healthcare organizations prioritize innovation, becoming an innovative organization requires hard work and patients.
"It's not always easy to take a great idea and get people to buy into it. And that's especially challenging when you try to implement an idea that is going to disrupt something."
In most instances, healthcare organizations struggle to get manager buy-in to innovation – something that prevents these organizations from driving ongoing improvements.
"It's not always easy to take a great idea and get people to buy into it," Beinlich said. "And that's especially challenging when you try to implement an idea that is going to disrupt something."
How senior-level healthcare executives educate managers may dictate a healthcare organization's approach to innovation.
If senior-level healthcare executives teach managers to perform day-to-day tasks, managers may focus on helping a healthcare organization achieve short-term goals.
On the other hand, executives who empower managers to act as leaders, i.e. individuals who are unafraid to drive transformation, can foster a culture of innovation.
"I don't think we always look at our managers and look at them as leaders," Beinlich noted. "But there is a big difference between a manager and a leader."
Beinlich also highlighted several examples of companies that failed to embrace innovation, and as a result, became obsolete.
"If people think innovation is inventing, then the bar is pretty high, and that's pretty tough to achieve."
Kodak once dominated the photography landscape but focused exclusively on its current profit margin, Beinlich said. This caused the company to miss out on opportunities to embrace digital technologies.
Meanwhile, Blockbuster served as a premier provider of video and DVD rentals for many years, according to Beinlich. But Netflix – and its innovative digital video streaming service – quickly disrupted the way consumers accessed videos.
The Kodak and Blockbuster examples illustrate the importance of challenging the status quo, Beinlich stated. If managers act as leaders, these professionals will be unafraid to speak up, address problems before they escalate and find innovative ways to resolve such issues.
"It's okay to challenge things and say, 'I have a better way for how we can do this,'" Beinlich pointed out.
The IoT is revolutionizing the way that individuals connect with one another, a trend that appears likely to continue over the next few years.
Mobile devices and other state-of-the-art platforms make it easier than ever for individuals to interact with the world around them. For healthcare organizations, it is important to realize the true value of the IoT, or risk falling behind rivals.
Healthcare organizations can use sensors and other best-in-class technologies to improve the patient experience. Furthermore, these organizations can use IoT technologies to help patients save both time and money.
"Sensors have opened doors to us," Beinlich said. "Wearable patient monitoring gear … enables patients to wear what they would be hooked up to in a hospital."
The IoT continues to evolve, and healthcare organizations must be ready to adapt to new technologies as they become available.
Beinlich recommended that healthcare organizations consider the tools and technologies that are currently available, along with technologies that may become available in the foreseeable future.
If healthcare organizations deploy current IoT technologies, these organizations risk various technologies becoming obsolete quickly. Conversely, if healthcare organizations look further down the line, they can discover high-end technologies that can make a world of difference in their everyday operations for years to come.
"If we build a new hospital, and the technology we put in is current at the time, it will be outdated technology within two years," Beinlich pointed out. "It's a real struggle for us to figure out where technology is going to be in 2020. We need to figure out: do we want to be normal in 2020, or do we want to try and leapfrog that?"
Jim Beinlich is an Associate Vice-President of Information Services at Penn Medicine with responsibility for Entity Services within I/T including the Project Management Office (PMO), End User Support, Radiation Oncology IT, Radiology I/T (previously), and Clinical Engineering (Biomedical).
He has over 25 years of experience in healthcare operations (hospital and physician practice), information management and technology. He is a certified Project Management Professional and holds an MBA in Health Care Management from Widener University.
Jim has significant experience with large, complex health systems in the areas of strategic planning, process redesign, project management, IoT, and operations improvement. He has consulted for large organizations such as the US Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and Catholic Health Initiatives. He holds adjunct faculty appointments at Temple University Graduate School of Health Information Management and Widener University Graduate School of Business.