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Could Tracking Hospital Staff Lead to Better Patient Care?

A study in Japan is employing IoT wearables for nurses and patients.

As part of a Smart Hospitals initiative, SATO Healthcare and Nagoya University Hospital’s Medical IT Center are using IoT technology to study patient care.

“With this study, Nagoya University Hospital primarily seeks to visualize the work status of nurses and amount of time they spend with patients,” Kevin Leidheiser, public relations for Sato Holdings Corp., told MD+DI. “It seeks to clarify the amount of resources used to handle patients with certain characteristics and believes it will be able to use captured data to quantitatively evaluate work difficulty and efficacy.”

Researchers are employing IoT wearable devices that capture, log, and visualize data on location of hospital staff and vital signs of patients. “There are two types of beacons―one for hospital workers and one for patients,” Leidheiser said. “The beacon for hospital workers tracks their location while the beacon device for patients tracks vitals and location. The beacons used for patients are customized MEDiTAG devices. MEDiTAG utilizes edge computing to provide analytics of vital signs within the beacon itself and transmit only the results to a BLE gateway, enabling a system where each device does not have to be paired to a unique smart device.”

SATO Healthcare supplied an indoor location system for detecting worker location. “For nurses, precise location data at the bed level and time spent in each area is captured and logged to visualize the work and ensure optimal management of nurses to streamline service,” he said. “For patients, data on their vital signs and location will be captured and logged to improve speed of response. The data is transmitted from the MEDiTAG beacons to antennas (gateways) installed in the ceiling, which passes through local servers before being stored in the cloud. The data can be viewed in the nurse station.”

Leidheiser said that “by visualizing nurse work processes, the system enables time-based evaluation of nurses work to make improvements and decrease irregularities that occur from nurse to nurse. It seeks to provide each patient with the highest level of care by creating standard patterns that can help in nursing administration. Analysis of big data captured by the system is also expected to help decrease the number of incidents.”

Nagoya University Hospital Medical IT Center lead principal investigator and researcher Dr. Shintaro Oyama said in a statement: “We feel that improving the safety of inpatient service is a crucial challenge and the core of this Smart Hospital initiative. Thanks to the solution from SATO Healthcare and our research, we will provide a new inpatient experience and services to provide unparalleled reassurance to patients. With AI, we will use the captured data to analyze and develop systems to prevent incidents.”

When asked what role such a system could play in the ideal smart hospital of the future, Oyama stated that “in the future, we hope to use location data captured by the nurses' beacons to visualize their movements to understand their routes within the hospital at any given time. This will allow visualization at the wing and floor level to show peak times, which will help improve productivity and patient care even when staff levels are low. The hospital also hopes to use AI to monitor vital signs and send alerts to nurses' mobile terminals when abnormalities occur.”

For more details on the study, click here


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Tracking Hospital Staff - Iot Technology Having spent 10 years of my life as a critical care nurse in a variety of settings (ICU/CCU/ER) what we do not need in today's healthcare environment is to spend money on what we already know. Nurses are having to spend more time away from their patient's than they prefer. We do not need to micro manage nursing and other staff to track this for analytics. Let nursing do their jobs and not waste money on analytics that do not provide value to the patient