As mobile technologies in healthcare becoming increasingly commonplace, we are now in a position to innovate further in order to provide the best service for patients and best work conditions for staff. Beacon technology is a simple to deploy and inexpensive solution that will be part of the next innovative revolution for mobile technology in healthcare.

The Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s (formerly Miami Children’s hospital) recently implemented one of the first large-scale beacon/IoT systems in healthcare and it has been hailed as a great success. Beacon technology is being used to assist staff manage room inspections, complete inventory checks and locate specific staff members and patients across the facility. Looking forward, the hospital is planning to include a hand sanitisation monitoring system, using mobile and beacon technology, to ensure adherence to the highest possible hygiene standards.

A simple, low cost, low energy Bluetooth beacon and mobile technology has enabled greater staff efficiencies and patient satisfaction at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. This case study presents an opportunity for further Bluetooth and mobile innovation in healthcare.

In addition to the use cases deployed at Nicklaus Children’s hospital, location-based technology in healthcare provides the opportunity to drive efficiencies through:

  •      Electronic health records – beacon technology enables patients and healthcare professionals to send and receive relevant information at the right time using geo-location. A patient entering a clinic could automatically send any relevant documents to a doctor as soon as they are within a beacon’s radius.
  •      Personalisation – beacon technology enables users to have content customised according to digital records like phone history and digitised health information.
  •      Inventory counts on crash carts – using RFID tags, healthcare staff are able to conduct quick and thorough inventory counts on crash carts, ensuring that inventory and carts are always fully stocked.
  •      Patient-record matching– patients in hospital wards can be matched to their records to avoid human error and increase efficiencies by ensuring the each patient is receiving the right care.
  •      Time tracking – RFID tags and cloud based technologies are being used to track the amount of time it takes for cardiac arrest patients to receive immediate treatment. This enables hospitals to benchmark their efforts and increase their efficiencies.
  •      Location context and navigation – large healthcare facilities and multi-specialty hospitals require thorough mapping and direction signage. Beacon technology can be implemented for indoor mapping, to assist patients and visitors navigate a healthcare centre or hospital.
  •      Data and Analytics – beacon technology enables healthcare facilities to collect contextual data for each patient, which can be used in a multitude of ways, for example, in medication management or for prescription recommendations.
  •      Streamline hospital operations – using a connected network, hospital staff can receive task notifications, emergency updates and have mobile access to patient records. This streamlined approach will help drive time savings and minimise paper use.

The benefits of mobile and beacon technology in healthcare extend beyond what has already been defined and implemented. As beacon technology increasingly becomes a tool used in enterprise operations, new uses and benefits are being discovered. We are at the forefront of beacon technology and have only recently begun to understand how data collection, location context and tracking can benefit healthcare. 

The data collected by mobile and beacon technology in healthcare could also have an enormous impact on costs, enterprise efficiencies and mortality rates. The sum of patient’s data which can be analysed or used in research, could be used to transform medicine and produce new ways of treating conditions.

If we consider the UK and the NHS for example, the potential for mobile and location-based technologies is vast. As mobile technologies in healthcare continue to grow, there is pressure on the NHS Trusts and GP surgeries to pay attention and invest in innovation. By innovating in healthcare technologies we can provide a better healthcare service and save taxpayers money in the long run. In the UK alone, there are over 19 million missed appointments with the NHS each year. This figure comes at a huge expense to the system and proves it’s overall inefficiencies.

Healthcare technology requires further innovation and investment to be globally disruptive. While isolated beacon and mobile implementations are a huge step forward, this is only a fraction of what beacon technology can enable for the healthcare sector.

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