iBeacon Technology presents a substantial opportunity for healthcare facilities to revolutionize both the visitor and patient experience as well as hospital management and patient care. Below I will outline some of the most fruitful possibilities for the healthcare sector to take advantage of proximity awareness for a more effective and efficient environment for visitors, patients, staff, and clinician’s alike.
WAY-FINDING & INDOOR MAPPING
One of the most problematic arenas for visitor frustration at healthcare locations stems from directional issues. Large hospitals or other clinical facilities can be a confusing labyrinth of hallways, departments, and waiting rooms. Reliance on overhead signs for directional cues is not always helpful, and soliciting a busy staff member for help is not always easy or an efficient use of their valuable time. By placing Bluetooth proximity beacons throughout a hospital facility, visitors with the hospital app installed and Bluetooth enabled can easily benefit from detailed walking directions to wherever they need to go based on their present location. In addition, their exact parking location can be pinned allowing for easy navigation upon their exit. Not only does providing a digital channel for indoor mapping substantially improve a visitors experience, but cuts down on staff resources needed to assist those arriving at the facility or navigating the hallways, providing more time to be spent engaging in more necessary tasks. The hospital can also benefit from detailed visitation reports including foot traffic analysis of key areas in order to ensure proper resource allocation.
Beyond navigational and information based features, beacons can also be utilized for immediate and automatic patient check in. For instance, a patient’s arrival for surgery or other appointments can be notated on a staff member’s application for seamless check in, reducing lines created just to indicate arrival. Once a patient has walked in to a designated area, a personalized push notification greeting can let the visitor know they have been documented. Staff members can then immediately begin any prep while the patient only needs to proceed to an unoccupied seat. Not only does this provide for more efficient processing, but reduces wait times caused by chaotic or congested waiting areas.
One of the most challenging aspects of running a large health facility involves the effective communication between all staff members involved in patient care. Coordination between staff is pivotal in such a highly concentrated and time-sensitive environment. With beacons, all staff member movement can be tracked including visits to patient rooms, allowing administration of care to be carefully documented. Even further, all staff members involved with patients can communicate through the app, notating completed test and procedures, medication dosing, etc. In an emergency situation, the closest available staff member can also be routed through the app making for faster response times in often critical moments. Lastly, important information such as medication allergies and other critical notes can be relayed between staff members making sure everyone is on the same page at all times.
CLINICAL CARE & MANAGEMENT
Imagine how beneficial it would be for a BLE beacon installed in every patient room to initiate automatic patient record retrieval on a clinician’s tablet device just by walking in the room. Not only does it eliminate the waste of traditional paper patient charts, but serves to speed up patient care and staff effectiveness. The digital channel can also present further opportunities for more effective patient management tools. For instance, a detailed view of a patient’s health history can be presented visually over time in app, presenting a more holistic view of patient progress. Digital imaging taken just minutes earlier can be displayed on the screen allowing the clinician to engage with the patient at the bedside, viewing the results together in real-time. The doctor can highlight areas of concern on screen with touch features, and easily save notes in their digital chart for future visits. These are just a few examples of the powerful potentials presented by state-of-the-art mobile tools to be used for optimizing patient care.
Proximity-based technology also presents the opportunity for better tracking of vital hospital resources. By placing a beacon on every piece of equipment that moves throughout the hospital, equipment can be better tracked and accessed when needed. Beacons simplify the process of accounting for vital tools, ensuring more efficient allocation around an entire facility.
In addition to indoor mapping, visitors can receive valuable information on hospital services, venues, and resources in the moments that matter, when they are physically walking by. For instance, a visitor can be reminded of hospital hours as they enter through a streamlined push notification sent to their mobile home screen, receive an alert for parking validation as they head towards exit points, be alerted of daily food specials available in the cafeteria, or a coupon for a discount in the hospital gift shop. Proximity-aware technology allows all visitors to receive highly relevant information depending on their location, all from the convenience of their mobile devices.