NHS Highland hospital trials IoT enabled medical beds

Internet of Things tech used to help monitor maintenance of hospital beds in Scotland

A Scottish hospital is trialling internet of things (IoT) technology to monitor medical beds more efficiently as they move through the building.

NHS Highland's Caithness General Hospital in Wick has begun a trial system to automate the process of bed maintenance through the use of sensors to monitor the status of medical beds and improve access to maintenance data.

Medical beds have a number of mechanical and hydraulic components that require regular maintenance checks to ensure they operate efficiently and do not compromise the safety or comfort of patients.

Caithness General currently has 68 beds in operation that require monthly maintenance checks and keeping track of beds as they move around the facility and keeping maintenance record of each manually creates an administrative burden that the hospital hopes will be removed with the new system.

The technology was developed in collaboration between sensor and IoT startup Beringar and the Scottish Innovation Center for Sensor and Imaging Systems. It uses Bluetooth-compatible tags that transfer real-time data from the beds via a low-power, wide area network.

The data, such as the location of the beds and maintenance records, can be accessed through a central dashboard.

Head of estates at NHS Highland Eric Green said that if the trail is a success, it could lead to further implementation throughout the service and improve its efficiency at a time the public health authority is under immense pressure to do so.

"It's now more important than ever for the NHS to increase productivity and identify where it can make changes to enhance efficiency. Beringar's technology has allowed us to obtain immediate information on where our hospital beds are located," he said.

"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."

The trial demonstrates how connected and smart technologies are not gimmicks but useful tools for organisations and enterprises to put to use in order to become more efficient and effective in their day-to-day operations. 

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