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Internet of Things helps asthma patients breathe easily

Thor Olavsrud | Nov. 26, 2014
Medical device company Aerocrine, which specializes in devices that help physicians diagnose and monitor asthma, is using new IoT-focused services from Microsoft Azure Cloud Services to reduce device downtime and help its sales and customer support teams better service hospitals and clinics.

"It's a challenge to give proactive customer support and service," Carlson says. "What we have been looking for is how that can be improved by information technology. What we have found with the technology Microsoft has developed is accessible technology that makes it possible for us to stream data into the cloud and then access and integrate the device data so we can change our business processes and customer support processes in a proactive way to support our customers."

Aerocrine is using Microsoft Azure Cloud Services to gather telemetry data from computers connected to NIOX MINO devices and then transmit the data for analysis. It developed an application that transmits complex data like sensor and environmental data from each instrument's sensor, the serial number of devices and sensors and the number of airflow measurements remaining on each instrument. Azure Event Hubs ingests the data from the devices, while Azure Stream Analytics processes the data, which will be presented to Aerocrine's sales and customer service representatives via Microsoft Power BI for Office 365 dashboards.

Aerocrine is also cross-referencing the data with its Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP system to give its sales team a clearer view of the devices.

"We can link device serial numbers in NAV to the address of the hospital and then put that address on a map using mapping functionality in power BI," Murman notes.

The data is already transforming the company's processes, Carlson and Murman say. With access to near-real-time telemetry data from its devices, Carlson says Aerocrine is able to ask questions that wouldn't be possible with a traditional relational database system. For instance, it can determine whether devices are operating outside their normal parameters -- in conditions with humidity levels that are too high or too low -- and create alerts to send to the customer support team. And Murman notes that the deep insight into the devices means Aerocrine can better identify the trigger points that affect performance and use that information to deploy field resources for customer service and sales support.

Ultimately, Carlson says, the company hopes to explore use of the new capabilities to gather and analyze data transmitted from devices in patients' homes, allowing them to more proactively monitor their asthma while reducing visits to hospitals and clinics.


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