Smart Hospitals - the future of IoT & health care | EffectiveSoft
Back to blog

Considerations for Designing IoT-Based Infrastructure for Smart Hospitals

There is no room for imperfect processes on the healthcare frontline. Therefore, managers in hospitals around the world invest heavily in new technologies. However, managers’ focus has recently shifted from implementing siloed patient data management systems to "Smart Hospitals", which are more complex and comprehensive solutions.
9 min read
smart hospital technology

    Above all, building a Smart Hospital means rethinking the entire hospital concept. The concept of a Smart Hospital can be described as a composable IT ecosystem where all critical insights are a click away. In order to create an ecosystem with hardware and software solutions that work in harmony with clinical workflows, it is necessary to design a resilient, energy-efficient, code-compliant infrastructure.

    Given the rapid rise of the Internet of things (IoT) and its numerous capabilities, it is now possible to create such an infrastructure. Relevant IoT capabilities, which provide a solid foundation for building a high-tech hospital or smart hospital rooms, include broad-gauge data collection, reliable data transmission, and smart processing.

    Smart Hospital architecture

    IoT-based Smart Hospital infrastructure includes building blocks that are common to all use cases:

    • Connected devices.
    • Networks and gateways that enable smart IoT devices to connect to the networks.
    • Applications that provide their users with meaningful insights.

    IoT building blocks for high-tech hospitals

    These building blocks support a multi-layered, IoT-based system.

    To better understand them, we will explain what, why, and where the above-mentioned components are built into the IoT infrastructure based on the example of a three-layer architecture.

    Smart hospital example layers

    The three-layer architecture comprises the perception, network, and application layers.

    The perception layer is where the first set of building blocks — connected devices — plays a major role. These devices generate data that is collected and transmitted to the next layer. Networks and gateways serve as intermediaries between physical devices and servers or cloud, and constitute the network level. Gateways can be implemented in the form of physical devices or software. In addition to the normalization and transfer of data, modern gateways pre-process and filter raw data, encrypt data before it is transferred over the networks, and facilitate security monitoring. In general, networks enable communication between connected devices and the application layer.

    Clouds or remote servers in the application layer are the core of the entire infrastructure. Due to their powerful services, data storage and big data processing are enabled, and 3rd party APIs and UIs are implemented.

    Key layers of architecture and technology for Smart hospital system

    With these basic concepts in mind, we can proceed with the five-layer architecture, which comprises perception, transport, processing, application, and business layers.

    The perception layer, as we mentioned before, is all about physical devices and the data they generate. The devices are connected to the networks to enable the exchange of generated and collected data.

    The transport layer enables data transfer from the perception layer to the processing layer. It also provides network-level security measures.

    The processing layer stores, analyzes, and processes data sets received from the perception layer. Data from all sources are accumulated here to be placed into the respective data storage depending on data type (structured or unstructured). Next, the data is transformed and undergoes preliminary analysis so that the required portion of it can be used in the application and business layers.

    The application layer addresses user requirements by delivering application-specific data and services to stakeholders. The applications vary depending on the stakeholders and the information they must provide. Examples include IoT device monitoring software and process monitoring software.

    The business layer is a core element of the five-layer architecture. Its broad responsibilities can vary from advanced analytics to controlling application layer functionality (i.e., it provides advanced analytics, defines the rules of how the application layer interacts with users, etc). It facilitates the management of end-to-end business decisions, the creation of healthcare facility revenue, cost reduction, and healthcare service improvements.

    Newest trends in building multilayered architecture for Smart Hospitals

    The volume of the smart hospital market is growing from year to year. Today, more and more smart devices for healthcare are coming into the market. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that with their integration, a Smart Hospital’s concept is flawless and the Smart Hospital’s infrastructure works like a well-oiled machine. In this regard, the implementation of edge computing technology and proper security measures plays a critical role.

    Edge computing

    Given the expanding role of IoT in healthcare, healthcare facilities are seeking more robust computing technologies for IoT systems and trusted providers for IoT software development. Edge computing, in combination with IoT, helps in cases when speed matters. Even though cloud architecture helps solve numerous data storage and processing issues, latency and availability hiccups still arise in cloud solutions. Thus, edge-computing components are often integrated into the IoT systems of a healthcare facility. Using edge computing, healthcare service providers bring data sources as close as possible to the connected devices. The main advantages of data processing at the “edge” of the data collection point are as follows:

    • Speed
    • Energy efficiency
    • Reduced end-to-end latency

    To explore the benefits listed above, employing 5G technology is worth considering. Combined with edge computing, 5G offers ultra-low latency and high speed, which are critical for medical care.

    Security

    Security is the most critical issue in IoT-based intelligent hospital systems due to vulnerable IoT devices and continuous data transfer within the Smart Hospital ecosystem. Considering the rising number of security threats, security measures that cover all the layers described above are a necessity.

    There are three pillars of IoT architecture that must be protected: devices, connectivity, and the cloud.

    Smart devices in hospitals are protected in two ways. On the one hand, from the manufacturer’s side, they are protected with embedded devices for authentication and endpoint protection as well as secure boot to prevent unauthorized code from running. On the other hand, user-side protection includes regular updates of security patches and physical protection, like metal cases or shields.

    Connection security is mainly achieved through the encryption of data being sent over devices, networks, or applications. To ensure end-to-end data protection, standard Transport Layer Security cryptographic protocol can be used for IoT messaging protocols like MQTT, AMQP, and DDS.

    Cloud security is important in relation to data stored in the cloud; it aims to mitigate risks from unwanted persons’ access to sensitive information. Security measures include the following:

    • Authentication and authorization mechanisms to limit application access.
    • Device identity management to prove device credibility before connection to the cloud.

    In terms of IoT system protection, it is also worth mentioning the security of its data at rest. Data at rest is often considered as less vulnerable than data traveling within a network (in motion) and thus is not always properly protected. As a result, attackers often see it as their target. Therefore, it is critical to provide security at rest that involves the encryption of data before placing it in storage or the encryption of storage itself is extremely important. In addition, such measures are required to ensure both HIPAA and GDPR compliance.

    There can’t be too much security. Therefore, it is always worth ensuring that security is tight at all levels, from the smallest devices to all-encompassing systems.

    In addition, Medigate and CrowdStrike, the leaders in healthcare security, provide several recommendations that can help resist attacks:

    • Integrate endpoint detection and response solutions.
    • Provide orchestrated visibility.
    • Use network segmentation.

    At EffectiveSoft, we always emphasize the importance of security. Therefore, we include a highly skilled security specialist in our development teams.

    Practical considerations before your journey begins

    There are several things to have in mind when planning the development of a Smart Hospital:

    • There is no one-size-fits-all architecture for each Smart Hospital project. To uncover the specific needs of your healthcare facility, a dedicated project team at EffectiveSoft rolls up their sleeves to define requirements and create a foundation that allows us to respond to the specific business needs of your organization.
    • The Smart Hospital architecture should be built considering scalability. The volume of Smart Hospital data will rise continuously, and the IT infrastructure should be able to accommodate it in the long run.
    • High availability must be ensured 24/7. A healthcare facility cannot afford any system failures because of their potentially fatal consequences.
    • Sufficient flexibility to accommodate fast and frequent changes is required. Since breaking existing infrastructure is unacceptable for a healthcare institution, it must be possible to implement modifications quickly and seamlessly.
    • Providing observability is key as it allows teams to monitor a Smart Hospital ecosystem more effectively, detect issues in a complex infrastructure, and trace those issues back to their root cause. In addition, observability provides system administrators and developers with visibility into the entire Smart Hospital architecture.

    Conclusion

    In the modern world, Smart Hospital projects must be placed high on the agenda of every healthcare executive even though they are a costly investment. By integrating with a hospital’s existing technologies and designing new Smart Hospital software, EffectiveSoft helps healthcare facilities focus more on delivering care and spend less time on things that can be automated and performed by smart systems. Thoughtful and well-implemented Smart Hospital design can give you access to these incredible possibilities.

    If you are in search of high-quality healthcare software development services, turn to EffectiveSoft. We have significant experience in the domain and an extensive portfolio. Contact us to learn more.

    Contact us

    Our team would love to hear from you.

      Order an IT consultation

      Fill out the form to receive a consultation and explore how we can assist you and your business.

      What happens next?

      • An expert contacts you shortly after having analyzed your business requirements.
      • If required, we sign an NDA to ensure the highest privacy level.
      • A Pre-Sales Manager submits a comprehensive project proposal. It may include estimates, timelines, lists of CVs, etc., for a particular situation.
      • Now, we can launch the project.

      Our locations

      Say hello to our friendly team at one of these locations.

      Join our newsletter

      Stay up to date with the latest news, announcements, and articles.

        Error text
        title
        content