15 Top Bluetooth-Based IoT Uses in Healthcare

18 July 2017

Healthcare administrators have a lot to worry about. They have to keep track of equipment, ensure compliance, support their employees, and, of course, they have to care for patients. While researching for our white paper on Bluetooth tags in healthcare, we compiled 10 distinct ways hospitals can use Bluetooth LE-based IoT. Here they are.

Download the asset tracking in the healthcare industry white paper

Asset management

The most obvious, and possibly our favorite, use of IoT in healthcare is to build a complete asset tracking system. It’s no secret: hospitals equipment is expensive. And it’s easy for that equipment to go missing. Studies have found that hospitals will purchase 10-20% more equipment than necessary just because staff often has a hard time locating and using assets.
BLE-based asset tracking uses Bluetooth tags attached to wheelchairs, infusion pumps, portable scanners, and other pieces of critical equipment, enabling hospital staff members to locate and track assets in real time. The next time a doctor or nurse needs a certain tool, all they’ll have to do is check a dedicated app and see where the equipment is hiding.
Good, business outcome oriented asset management solutions aren't only about the real-time, though. More importantly, they translate all the collected location data into insightful reports, helping to understand the flow of assets, identify areas that are under and overequipped or assets that are misplaced, and making data-driven decisions on equipment purchases and placement.


Need an asset management solution for your healthcare facility? Discover Simon, our IoT Platform which combines IoT, RTLS, and workflows to drive business outcomes.

Schedule a demo now


Automated check-In

Who likes lines? No one. For patients and staff, the ability to automate check-in can make the entire visiting process much smoother and less complicated. No need for bundles of paperwork or queuing just to say “hi, I’m here.” With an IoT platform and Bluetooth LE-enabled wristbands or cards, you can automatically register every time a tag carrier enters or exits your facility or a specific area.

Automated entry and access

It’s easy to forget that security is a major aspect of proper hospital management. There are always several buildings and wings and varying levels of access rights. For sensitive areas, hospitals can use beacons to automate entry access. Instead of creating keys that are easily lost or using ID badges and physical checks that are easily manipulated. Bluetooth LE-enabled cards (like Card Tag) or wristbands allow for managers to assign very specific rights to each and every individual. Best of all, there’s no need to worry about a missing tag or buy new ones every time you change access rights.

Blood Transport Tracking

Tracking and keeping blood products properly identified can be complex and costly. There are often very limited restrictions concerning how long they can be kept in certain locations or temperatures. Effectively managing these products can quickly save a hefty amount of funds while further helping patients. Using Bluetooth allows managers to measure how long the products are out and make sure they get used properly. This use case includes identification, temperature tracking, and location tracking.


Want to learn more about Blood Transport Tracking use case? Listen to our on-demand webinar: Top 10 Ways Bluetooth Can Make Hospitals More Efficient.


Compliance tracking and recording

Hospitals have a legal obligation of checking and recording of stored medicines every day. If medicines are not stored properly, they may not work in the way they were intended, posing a potential risk to the health and wellbeing of the person receiving the medicine. Manual data collection is extremely time-consuming and creates room for human error.
IoT solves this problem by automating the entire process. Bluetooth LE temperature tags installed at storage areas constantly monitor the temperature and automatically pass the readings to the IoT platform in real time. All the collected data is securely stored in the platform and can be analyzed for any period of time.
Some platforms enable real-time notifications when measurements are sensed above or below set parameters and have preventive diagnostics, alerting about potential breaches before they occur.


If you're looking for a solution to improve your compliance monitoring, contact us now.


Data generation

Who is traveling where? How are employees performing? BLE-based IoT solutions deliver valuable data to help hospitals function better in the future. Most importantly, this can help everyone that uses or runs a hospital. Visitors can benefit from data-informed floor plans and scheduling. Administrators can benefit from very clear data on how efficiently their hospital is operating. Managers can optimize the work environment for their employees, and doctors and nurses can experience better planning and scheduling because of data.

Enhanced patient security

Hospital staff has to care for their fair share of at-risk patients. Confused or mediated patients require careful supervision, but that isn’t always possible in a crowded setting. Bluetooth tags can offer an added layer of protection by tracking these patients and ensuring they don’t enter into any dangerous areas. IoT platforms equipped with workflows enable you to get an alert when patient exists their designated area or enters a restricted zone.

Check out the common beacon uses in the healthcare industry

Environmental Monitoring

Apart from tracking for compliance reasons, you may want to monitor environmental conditions for other purposes. Some examples are monitoring temperature, humidity, or light levels at common areas or in patient rooms to ensure healthy and comfortable conditions, provide good visitor experience, and detect issues that require facility administrators' attention.

The environmental data is provided by sensor-equipped Bluetooth LE beacons installed at areas you want to track. Just like in the compliance tracking and recording example, the real-time and historical readings are available in the IoT platform, ready to be analyzed and acted upon. Workflows and predictive diagnostics help to automate the process even more.

Fast access to the nearest doctor

When a doctor is needed, it’s very often urgent. Instead of paging a doctor on the other side of the building or physically looking for the nearest assistance, IoT helps locate the nearest personnel immediately.
All you need is Bluetooth LE wristbands or cards you hand out to your staff members, and an IoT platform which will monitor their location. Whenever you look for someone, you open the platform, specify whether you need a specific or the nearest doctor, and a real-time map will show you the way.

Mass Casualty / Infectious Exposure

When a large emergency event occurs and there’s a spike of patients coming to the hospital, nurses can struggle to keep up. They must continue to triage and care for patients in areas they normally aren’t cared for. The Emergency Room expands to anywhere patients can be helped. However, the lack of ready infrastructure makes it very difficult to keep track of these patients. By using wearable Bluetooth tags, patients can be quickly tracked in terms of location and data.

Optimized patient flow

Doctors and nurses see several patients each day. That’s a lot of files to keep track of. It also leaves a lot of downtown and back-and-forth. One popular use case includes uses Bluetooth to deliver relevant patient files to the doctor as they enter the room. This means less time is wasted hunting down files. Similarly, indoor navigation can help patients find the right room in a large wing, fast, and even show staff the fastest route to their next appointment. There will always be a large number of patients moving through the hospital; Bluetooth means all those movements can be optimized for speed and comfort.
Click here to learn more about improving patient satisfaction with Bluetooth technology.

Post-visit care

Patients like to be in charge of their data and options. In fact, one study found that 80% of patients who are diagnosed with an illness will immediately go online in search of answers. In today’s world, patients expect to have access to all kinds of information. They want to any and everything that can help them get better—they may even search out further information to help them understand and evaluate their habits and lifestyle. That’s why post-visit care is crucial. By automatically sending them both the data specifically related to the visit and any and all relevant information to help them move forward, patients will both feel more comfortable and have the more options to act and leave healthier lives.

Staff Safety / Duress

According to a 2011 study conducted by the Emergency Nurse’s Association, 13% of ED nurses experienced physical violence in past 7 days. Several studies have shown that nurses and other workers are far more likely to experience violence in the workplace than other service professionals. Beacons can expand the opportunity for these workers to call for help and speed up the process of receiving assistance. This isn’t just helpful in financial terms but it also may prevent very real physical injuries and keeps staff feeling safe.


Want to learn more about our solution for asset management, compliance monitoring, and staff duress in healthcare?

Schedule a demo now


Time Studies for Process Improvement

Have a question about your processes? Not sure where to get started? Bluetooth offers the chance to easily do short-term time studies and get quick insights to numerous questions. This means skipping a big, full solution and roll-out. Managers can simply track the movements of certain assets, employees, or patients and get quick and affordable answers.

Wayfinding

Ever try to find a snack machine while visiting someone in the hospital? Wayfinding, or indoor navigation, means users will be able to find their way around large hospitals with ease. Whether they’re looking for the next office, a bathroom, or wheelchair-friendly route, proximity-powered apps can help. For long- and short-term visitors alike, this capability removes the stress of getting lost or not knowing what is available in your area. Unlike physical signage, digital wayfinding can also be easily updated without the needs to order or install physical signs and placards.


Learn more about indoor navigation with Bluetooth beacons. Click here to download a free white paper.


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Hannah Augur

Content writer / tech blogger / geek based in Berlin. Hannah reports on all things tech and has a medium-sized tolerance for buzzwords.

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