Building Smarter Hospitals
An office worker wouldn’t use a stethoscope to effectively check the toner in a printer, but doctors use office computers to monitor patients every day. Ergonomically, however, the marriage of desktop computer and bedside manner don’t always mix, and if a team of researchers at the Center for Pervasive Computing at Aarhus University in Denmark have their way, soon doctors might be monitoring patients in totally new ways.
Almost anything that could make the health care experience more efficient, from prescription drugs and drug containers that alert the health care provider or patient to their contents, all the way to beds with built-in computers that monitor patients and automatically adjust for comfort, is being tested by the researchers. Their goal? To make hospital computers fit the tasks at hand.
“Computer technology is made for office use so it requires a large desktop with plenty of room. In a hospital, the working environment is [one in which] you are walking about the whole hospital all of the time and you never sit down,” Dr. Jakob Bardram, the Center’s research manager, overseeing the hospital technology projects, told the BBC. His group of researchers has already developed a prototype of a computerized bed that contains patients’ charts to eliminate the need for hand-written charts, notes or hand-held computers on the care-giver’s part, and puts detailed information conveniently at bedside.
Bardram’s group is delving into greater considerations than just size and convenience for hospitals; they’re also looking at accuracy and security, as is the case with tiny pin-head sized computers that could possibly be implanted into the prescription drugs themselves. The goal is for the pill containers, into which the researchers have already implanted coin-sized computers, to be able to communicate with the pills to ensure that prescriptions are filled accurately. Additionally, devices could be programmed to allow specific patient information to be accessed only by authorized health care providers.
Source: BBC News