IoT in Healthcare: Smart Beds

Thanks to technology and the growing innovation of IoT devices, the hospital bed has been reimagined.  New smart beds monitor up to 35 data points, including a patient’s weight, body temperature, and heartbeat; and include blood, oxygen, and pressure sensors.  The beds will electronically update a patient’s medical record with all data, including how many times the patient left their bed and how often they’ve been turned in bed.  Some smart beds even include verbal alerts that can be triggered, like, “please don’t get up,” and USB ports for patients to charge their mobile devices.

When used in acute care or long-term care facilities, these smart beds help medical teams continuously monitor patients’ health in a non-invasive way.  They increase patients’ safety by automatically transferring all data in real-time over the wireless network, allowing medical teams to instantly review and monitor patients’ vitals.  In addition, alerts are sent if there are any sudden changes in a patient’s health or movement (i.e. if a patient tries to get out of bed when they shouldn’t), enabling medical personnel to intervene before patient health deteriorates.  In one study, the use of heart rate and respiratory rate sensing technology in smart beds reduced the rate of code blue events by 86%, and resulted in a 45% reduction in the average stay of ICU patients transferred from the medical-surgical unit.

Smart beds definitely seem to be a worthwhile investment, but there are a few necessary steps to walk through before adding them to your hospital or care facility.  These beds rely on a robust wireless network infrastructure. Without one, medical professionals can’t depend on the smart beds to gather and transmit life-saving patient data.  To ensure your network is in optimal health, work with a WiFi Assurance platform that delivers:

Complete Network Visibility

WiFi networks are dynamic ecosystems.  They consist of the entire RF environment, connected devices, and front-end and back-end infrastructure.  This ecosystem is always changing as devices connect and disconnect, network tests are run, and upgrades are made.  In many hospitals, the challenges are increased by interference from medical devices, even non-WiFi ones such as microwave ovens, or even  building infrastructure sensors such as temperature controls. Many older buildings were not designed with WiFi in mind and it takes continuous monitoring to ensure the network is working as desired.   The only way to know if the network is optimized and reliable is with 100% network visibility. Look for an assurance platform that automatically monitors and analyzes data from the entire ecosystem, 24/7.  This is necessary if you want to be confident that your network is accurately reporting the data gathered from your smart beds and other health technology.

Remote Network Tests

IT teams are not always located onsite.  To prevent IT from having to travel to run tests and troubleshoot issues, work with an assurance platform that will run network tests remotely.  Running tests on a scheduled, continuous basis enables IT to work proactively to ensure network health is optimized, and reduces the chances of a “surprise” causing issues that could degrade the network and interrupt the successful monitoring of patients’ health.  

Historical Analytics

WiFi-network infrastructure is usually designed to last 3-5 years.  When it is time to upgrade, you want to know exactly how the network has changed over that time, and what a future network needs to support.  To get the answers you need, work with an assurance platform that automatically saves historical data. Pulling that data and comparing it will let you easily see how to best optimize the network.

Top-Notch Security

Digital security is also a key concern.  Patients’ private information must be kept private, which means minimizing any network vulnerabilities and mitigating the data security risk from all angles.  Work with an assurance platform that offers network health monitoring as one of its network tests, and will automatically and proactively alert IT to any security issues.  One specific issue is the security of all the client devices. All health technology, including smart beds, should operate on a closed network so that no one outside the facility can hack the technology and gain access to secure information.  

As healthcare facilities continue to increase their reliance on IoT and smart beds to better patient care, it becomes more critical that network performance is maintained. Follow these tips to optimize your network and patient health.

Wyebot’s Wireless Intelligence Platform™ (WIP) is an award-winning, patented WiFi AI-based Assurance solution.  Contact us with any questions you have on network optimization, or request a demo to see WIP in action.

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