Hospitals have long been at the forefront of adopting new technology. Both public and private institutions recognise the importance of providing the best possible services to their patients, and technology enables them to do so.
When we consider healthcare and innovation in technology, most people understandably assume that innovation involves some sort of a new medical device, or an upgraded version of an existing medical system. Such devices are developed and improved to enable doctors to spend less time on tests and systems, and more time with their patients. But these technologies are not the only ways in which productivity can be increased for hospital staff, nurses and doctors.
In an age where mobile industry developments mean that almost everyone carries smartphones and tablets, there are immense possibilities for innovation that can make individuals more productive. Introduced by Apple in June 2013, iBeacon is a new technology rich in potential, as mobile app developers can facilitate low energy Bluetooth communications between two BLE-enabled devices (including most Bluetooth 4.0 enabled mobiles/tablets/laptops and specific iBeacon devices like Estimote).
This technology has a huge potential to improve the productivity of hospital staff. Below are just five ways in which iBeacon could be harnessed to help hospitals become more efficient:
iBeacons installed near patients’ beds or rooms would allow staff to simply walk up to the patient and check their Bluetooth 4.0 enabled device (which would already have a connected application installed on it). When the iBeacon recognises the doctor’s device, it opens the relevant patient’s medical records on their mobile or tablet.
Medical records would be stored in a central location, on a server that can be accessed only from the hospital’s systems as well as recognised connected mobile/tablet devices. If a patient has been receiving treatment from the same hospital for a number of years, then the doctor could potentially check and compare all the patient’s data in a single application, right in front of the patient’s bed.
iBeacons installed near the nurse stations would enable staff to find out their duties for the day and access information such as their patients’ medication requirements, from their mobile devices. This would enable nurses to prepare for their duties within a few seconds of their arrival at their station. It would also help to decrease the margin of error in the communication process.
Doctors could plan their workday more appropriately by accessing their duties and appointments directly from their personal mobile devices as soon as they enter the hospital premises. This would enable doctors to immediately review their schedule and plan their day, to improve productivity.
iBeacons could boost security in the hospital environment by only allowing staff to access the system on-site. The system could also block or restrict access to third party applications on mobile devices on the hospital premises, ensuring better productivity amongst hospital staff.
iBeacons could enable access to patients’ devices. Customers could potentially receive notifications, such as changes or updates to their appointments, on arrival at the hospital. They could then be guided to the appropriate doctor’s room or department using location data. iBeacons could also transmit marketing material to patients’ devices, with information on special campaigns or availability of speciality doctors in the hospital.
The possibilities are endless for the use of technology in hospitals, and institutions willing to invest in iBeacon and the support of app developers could gain huge leaps in productivity and security. Although the full potential of iBeacon is yet to explored, above are just a few ideas on how it can be used within the healthcare industry.