Internet of things or IoT becomes the focal point of modern day technology and becomes inevitable for every industry including the healthcare industry. The discreet beacons become a vital component of the IoT ecosystem, revolutionizing the way things have been done in the last few years.
Beacon/ibeacon app development is being extensively deployed by hospitals & healthcare centers to make the most of this amazing technology.
- Forbes cites a market research report that puts the healthcare industry IoT investments at about $110 billion plus by 2020.
- A review suggests that about 60% of healthcare institutes have introduced IoT empowered devices in their facilities. The most common use of IoT is to set up monitoring for patients.
- Most respondents in the same review, about 80% are inclined to explore IoT as a means to drive innovation in their line of business.
- A pioneer in the telecom sector, Vodafone, has recently published a white paper depicting how IoT will allow people to align themselves with their medical treatment schedules. The technology revolution driven by IoT will impact millions of individuals and can possibly result in savings of hundreds of billions in the US every year.
Beacons in the Healthcare Industry
Beacons render a layer of simplicity to the complex IoT ecosystem. Beacons are plain, low energy Bluetooth devices or BLE, communicating with smartphones &other devices silently. This tiny wonder collects data from the real world and fuses it into the virtual, only to be contended by a close competitor Google Physical Web
Both Apple with their iBeacons & Google with Eddystone, the open beacon format, come up with their own beacon technologies lending a definitive edge to the world of healthcare besides all other industries to boast of.
Beacons push the healthcare & hospital operations when it comes to automation, innovation & improving productivity.
- Medical staff gets notifications pertaining to their assigned duties when they reach the workplace.
- Nurses get informed about what kind of medication the patient has been prescribed to during their round using beacon technology.
- Doctors then get triggers on when was the last physician round in that particular ward or near the patient bed, and if sufficient time has elapsed, to evaluate the course of treatment.
Emergency notifications are sent out easily so as to gain fastest possible attention from nearby medical staff.
Many hospitals and healthcare organizations are planning to invest in beacon technology to reap the benefits of automation. Japan’s Nagoya University Hospital has recently launched a smart hospital proof-of-concept (POC) to examine the efficiency of using beacons.
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The level of integration beacons have with IoT allows operational healthcare make a move towards modernization empowered with technology.
Beacons are also very effective when it comes to record retrieval, an essential part of hospital operations. Imagine a patient queuing up for a doctor visit, and the doctor getting an advanced notification on the patient’s past medical history, interaction with the healthcare institute any kind of medication currently subjected to.
Beacon app directs patients via push notifications to the designated waiting areas, or provide them with the status of their appointments while waiting at the center. If the patient has already received a prescription, beacons help guide them to the in-house pharmacy.
If the patient has been prescribed a specific service like an X-ray or MRI, beacons help directly to the correct area. With the right app, beacons are capable to serve as a ready reference guide for patients across the hospital. Beacons also guide visitors to specific departments thus improving productivity and optimizing the cost of signage or published guides as well as displayed maps of the institute.
Digitized Access Control
Beacons also assist in setting up automation when it comes to accesses. Department managers can set up specific entry accesses for designated doctors or healthcare staff. At each access point, setting up Bluetooth tags also enable record or identity management & requisite availability of data.
Patient Tracking & Monitoring using Beacons
The usage of beacon technology to track patients within a hospital is obvious. Beacons are integrated with apps that in turn are synced to wearables such as wristbands or accessories.
Integrating beacons with wearables enables two-way communication, it guides patients as well as helps collect patient data, specifically health vitals.
However, even outside of the hospital, beacons are appropriately installed to trigger app notifications in case of an emergency, which places a call to the nearest hospital transmitting patient location data. This feature is of particular use for elderly patients, or for those that require constant supervision. In fact, the most common & obvious use case of Beacon & IoT combination in healthcare is to deploy extensive patient monitoring.
The cardiology department of Netherlands healthcare provider, Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) has started using a cloud-based IoT that denotes the use of beacons.
The solution involves a wristband with a built-in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons attached to the patient’s arm.
Healthcare Asset Tracking
One of the least talked about areas in the field of healthcare is how beacons assist with asset tracking. Bluetooth tags setup around hospital buildings and near all asset repositories ensure there is a regular check on each & every critical possession in the hospital.
Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in the USA has implemented Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to track assets and some personnel in the emergency department. This solution saves money and time by providing location-based intelligence services.
Considering the chaotic nature of healthcare operations, there is a possibility for hospital assets or equipment to be inaccessible when really required. Hospital assets are also not free from the risk of theft, making beacon-based asset tracking deployment important.
One estimate states that Equipment loss and theft costs U.S. hospitals an estimated $4,000 per bed, yearly.
It’s also calculated that more than one-third of nurses spend at least an hour finding items of equipment during an average hospital shift.
In such cases, asset tracking and management can be widely benefited from the use of real-time locator systems and beacons.
Considering their outreach in varied areas, beacons are exposed to a large amount of data such as patient movement, preferences, billing frequency, visit behavior all along with physiological data. Integrating beacons with analytics & big data help the healthcare enterprise or hospital with decision making insights so very critical in this competitive era.
In a Nutshell
Lifestyles adapt to technologies today, completely changing the way we live & work. Beacons completely change the ways of communication indoors and beacon/iBeacon app development comes of age.
Undoubtedly, Beacons and iBeacons are Grabbing Attention& Enticing Patrons all across the domains and are all set to improve the overall patient experience in the traditional healthcare centers.