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News - November 2018

NHS gets connected to track hospital beds

NHS gets connected to track hospital beds

A Scottish hospital is using the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor and track the whereabouts of medical beds as part of a new initiative to automate maintenance, a traditionally-manual process for facilities managers.

In a bid to improve efficiency and maximise safety, NHS Highland’s Caithness General Hospital in Wick is trialling a system developed by property technology company, Beringar, and the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems (CENSIS), to easily locate beds and quickly access their maintenance records as they move around the facility.

Eric Green, head of estates at NHS Highland, said: “Medical beds are high-tech pieces of equipment with various mechanical and hydraulic parts, meaning it is vital that hospitals ensure regular maintenance checks are performed to protect patient safety.”

Caithness General Hospital maintains each of its 68 beds once a month.

It is a significant administrative burden to manually keep track of and locate specific beds due for routine check-ups, especially as they frequently move around wards.

Now, to enable staff to clearly see where beds are and when they were last examined, Beringar and CENSIS have developed a system which uses Bluetooth tags to transfer real-time data via a low-power, wide area Internet of Things (IoT) network called LoRaWAN.

The tags can be attached to hospital beds, sharing their location and maintenance information with a dashboard monitored by NHS personnel.

The trial marks the second rolled out by Beringar for the NHS, after the company recently deployed its technology at Loxford Health Centre in Ilford, Essex, to monitor how rooms were used in the building.

The company was previously named one of the winners at CENSIS’s IoT Explorer, an accelerator programme for businesses looking to develop IoT-related products.

The Innovation Centre has since assisted in the development of Beringar’s sensor technology and initially introduced the start-up company to the LoRaWAN network, which its system now relies upon.

The current trial at Caithness General Hospital is expected to run for six months, with initial data already showing the positive impact it is having on efficiency levels.

The technology also has the potential to be developed further, enabling hospitals to track other valuable portable objects such as dialysis machines.

Green said: “It’s now more important than ever for the NHS to increase productivity and identify where it can make changes to enhance efficiency.

“The Bluetooth tags and dashboard make it easy to find the bed we’re looking for and access up-to-date maintenance records, enabling us to make smarter, more-informed decisions.”

Mark Sorsa-Leslie, director and co-founder of Beringar, added: “The NHS spends an estimated £8billion every year managing just its property estate. Having real-time data on how patients and staff are using its buildings and equipment could be transformative in helping the health service effectively manage its UK-wide estate and assets.”

And Dr Stephen Milne, business development manager at CENSIS, told hdm: “Beringar’s technology is providing the NHS with a suite of information, helping it make strategic decisions to deliver a high-performing estate.

“The LoRaWAN network can significantly increase connectivity within rural environments and it’s encouraging to see a hospital in the Highlands already experiencing the benefits of becoming better connected.”

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