Asset Tracking in Hospitals: 5 Examples of How Beacons Facilitate Everyday Nursing

asset tracking hospital

Beacons, or (Asset) Tags, are available in a variety of formfactors, colors, sizes, and they come with many additional features. These range from event-based LED and vibration indicators to integrated buttons for event management to temperature, humidity and acceleration sensors and measurement. Particularly in nursing, asset tags can ease the daily workflow and support quality management. Five examples demonstrate how tags can be utilized in the healthcare sector. 


1. Saved Search Time With Precise Person Tracking 

In medical departments with high patient volumes, in departments that are understaffed, and in departments serving individuals with special needs, such as dementia, patients can be difficult to locate. This can lead to lost time, wasted resources and, in the worst case, to life-threatening situations for the patients. In such cases, tracking the individual with a tag, for example a wearable that is attached to the wrist, is justified. The tracking of individuals is subject to strict data protection regulations. It must therefore be carried out in close consultation with the patients or their carers. When successfully implemented, tracking patients prevents staff from spending long amounts of time on searching for patients and allows them to focus on patient care. And ensuring that patients are not exposed to unnecessary risks. 


2. Smart Bed Management: Hard- and Software Solutions for Optimised Processes  

In addition to medical devices, the real-time localisation of hospital beds is also a viable use case for tags. These make it easy for nursing staff to locate the respective bed. Furthermore, a tag can also help indicate the cleaning status of a bed by being configured with pre-set smart buttons that allow a medical professional to order actions with the push of a button. Smart bed management, such as solutions from m2m Germany, can allow staff to indicate via a button press on a touchpad whether a bed has to be cleaned, is contaminated, or if it needs repair. The status of the bed is indicated via an LED display directly on the bed and is synchronized and displayed in the corresponding software’s user interface. 


3. Workplace Safety: Fast Alerting & Efficient Response Processes 

April is Workplace Violence Prevention Month. Associations such as the American Nurse Association (ANA) raise alarms that both physical and verbal violence against nursing staff is increasing. Especially in thinly staffed shifts or during the night, immediate assistance may not be available. Tracking, which only takes effect when the wearer triggers a silent alarm by pressing a button at its tag, allows the security service to be notified of the hazardous situation. It is important here that the staff are not subjected to continuous tracking but that it is only used when the button is actively pressed. If you wish to implement tracking, transparent communication is therefore key: talk to your staff about the benefits for their own safety and clearly communicate how and where their data will be processed. 


4. Efficient Time and Information Management in Everyday Nursing 

Communicating with patients can be a challenge for nursing staff. Often, there is little time in the daily routine to inform patients about the next steps in their treatment plan. Through tags with LED or vibration functions or with implemented buttons, nursing staff and patients can communicate with each other even without verbal communication. The signal of the tags can be assigned to a clear action in coordination with the patients: a vibration signal indicates a transfer to another area, or an LED signal indicates a visit. Thus, patients, especially with recurring routines, know what to expect. Nursing staff can easily control the tags via smartphone. On the patient side, a button can be pressed if assistance is required from the nursing staff. 


 5. Optimum Room Climate: Preventive Process Control Through Automated Warning Systems 

In certain hospital areas, temperature and humidity values must be maintained and regularly monitored. Beacons with corresponding additional sensors can assist in controlling the room environment. For example, if the temperature rises in a room where sensitive samples are stored, a beacon can detect that the temperature is too high. It then automatically sends a signal to the relevant staff. Thus, tags can make an important contribution to quality management and documentation. 

Beacons can be used at numerous stations in the hospital routine, thereby increasing quality and safety. However, the most important benefit is the saving of time, allowing nursing to focus more on direct patient care.