Optimizing Hospital Processes
Hospitals are under increasing pressure to reduce costs. This means that they will need to use their resources even more efficiently in the future. Fraunhofer IIS has now developed a wireless system for locating medical equipment and blood products as well as for condition monitoring. The project, which is called »OPAL-Health«, makes managing medical equipment easier and improves the safety of transfusion procedures.
Getting a grip on the hospital routine
»OPAL-Health« makes it possible to continuously monitor and document the transport, storage and use of medical equipment such as portable ECG machines. The system which will be developed facilitates the management of medical equipment by helping to detect overcapacity, enabling simpler, more transparent cost assessment and streamlining administration and planning. In addition, it offers protection against theft and tampering.
»Smart Objects« - Self-organizing helpers
The system consists of what are known as »smart objects« – microelectronic modules which are able to gather and save information from their environment and communicate wirelessly. These abilities are based on Fraunhofer IIS’s s-net® technology for energy saving, wireless sensor networks.
The sensor nodes form a wireless network which organizes itself and constantly collects needed data such as location or temperature. The information is then transmitted to the hospital’s main informational system. By their innate intelligence the sensor nodes can also make decisions on-site without the central server which is particularly important when matching blood products to patients.
Integrated power supplies allow the smart objects to activate autonomously so they can e. g. alert critical conditions. They do not need to be activated by an RFID reader and also transmit using much less power. As a result, the electromagnetic field can be minimized, which prevents interference. This is particularly important if smart objects are attached to medical devices or used in their immediate vicinity.