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NHS gets connected for maintenance

Tags can be attached to beds, allowing them to share location and maintenance information with a dashboard monitored by NHS personnel

Sorsa-Leslie: real-time data on how equipment and buildings are used
Sorsa-Leslie: real-time data on how equipment and buildings are used

A Scottish hospital is using the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor and track the location of its medical beds throughout the site 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), as part of an initiative to automate bed maintenance.


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 reportedly 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.


The aim of the trial is to easily locate beds and quickly access their maintenance records as they move around the facility, updating the traditionally manual process for much of the UK’s healthcare estate.


To enable staff to clearly see where beds are and when they were last examined, Beringar and Censis have together developed a system which uses Bluetooth tags to transfer real-time data via a low-power, wide area network (LoRaWAN).


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


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


“It’s now more important than ever for the NHS to increase productivity and identify where it can make changes to enhance efficiency,” said Eric Green, head of estates at NHS Highland.


“Beringar’s technology has allowed us to obtain immediate information on where our hospital beds are located. 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 current trial at the hospital is expected to run for six months, with initial data already showing the positive impact it is having on efficiency levels. The technology has the potential to be developed further, enabling hospitals to track other valuable portable objects such as dialysis machines.


“The NHS spends an estimated £8bn every year managing just its property estate,” added Mark Sorsa-Leslie, director and co-founder of Beringar. “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.”


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