Demands for greater efficiency, cost pressure, staffing shortages, data security – Germany’s hospitals are facing big challenges. Flat rate charges per case combined with expectations of optimum medical care for patients to raise day-to-day issues for those responsible for providing healthcare and for costs.
There is also mounting pressure for healthcare facilities to compete against each other. Everything revolves around delivering superior quality in treatment and patient care and around top-notch service, with various factors combining to create a hospital’s overall appeal to the patients it is competing to attract.
On top of that, there are stringent hygiene rules to follow in day-to-day practice, and these and other processes must be documented in detail, especially now, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
IoT platforms with localization solutions offer huge potential for optimization in the hospital setting
To meet these requirements, more and more hospitals are turning to the options offered by digitalization. Harnessing new digital technologies can significantly improve workflows and procedures at hospitals and other healthcare facilities. IoT platforms linked to tracking and/or localization technologies, with digital process controls and sensor elements, offer vast potential for optimization in hospital settings.
Lufthansa Industry Solutions has partnered with NESA Solutions to develop an innovative IoT platform that supports the digitalization of hospital processes and incorporates the technologies of the Internet of Things: the LHIND Insight Suite.
This solution unlocks considerably greater efficiency across many processes at hospitals. Meaningful reporting helps to document compliance with healthcare requirements. A continuous improvement process based on collected historical information also boosts quality and efficiency in the medium term.
The LHIND Insight Suite combines technology and business processes like no other solution of its kind. Using it reduces the costs associated with traditional business processes.
The LHIND Insight Suite
The solution for the digitalization of processes at hospitals and medical facilities with position location technology and IoT elements:
- Digitally supported clinic processes to reduce complexity and assure quality
- Digital checklists and reporting processes to make work easier, create transparency and ensure reliable documentation
- Position location technology for asset localization and device tracking to make things easier to find while improving availability and scheduling
- Reports and statistics to analyze capacity utilization, movement optimization and document results
This simplifies processes, reduces manual work effort, saves costs and enhances quality. Digital support frees up time that medical staff can use to concentrate on patient treatment and recovery.
Advanced technology and digital processes ease the strain on providers during day-to-day clinical operations and make it easier to comply with hygiene standards
The LHIND Insight Suite is an IoT platform that can link medical equipment and devices (“objects”) and day-to-day hospital processes together, along with various in-house hospital systems. The relevant applications are available in app form for smartphones and tablets used as part of the digital processes.
A modular approach, customization and scalability for a simple start and fast success
The system is modular in structure and can be adapted individually to a wide range of needs. It is also scalable, growing to meet the demands placed on it. This means it is possible to launch an initial trial project quickly and easily and with a small budget. If you have further requirements after that, you can simply expand your solution by stages.
The open system architecture means that a wide range of different digital infrastructure components can be integrated, from those you are already using to new technologies of the future. This open design is an important aspect in light of the rapid pace of advances in technology. Beyond that, the platform can also be connected to your existing system landscape through interfaces, of course.
The LHIND Insight Suite has four key components designed for different uses.
Features of the IoT platform
These features are what makes our system so simple and convenient to use.
- Modular design, modular uses
You use only the modules (such as Checklists, Workflows or Tracking) that you really need for your facility’s requirements.
The system adapts to your requirements. You can choose from predefined workflows and checklists or define new ones at any time and expand or change them on your own. Functionalities and statistics can also be adjusted to your hospital’s needs.
- Scalable in all directions
From one process or checklist to dozens, whether you need to locate one object or hundreds, over one unit or the entire hospital grounds – you decide how extensive your solution ends up being.
- Open architecture
A wide range of different digital infrastructure elements (such as electronic disinfectant dispensers, lights, digital signs) can all be connected to the platform. Available standard interfaces make it possible to integrate the solution into your hospital’s existing system landscape.
- As much automation as you need
If you want to use the system’s localization features at your facility, the devices themselves can supply a wealth of information and their locations to the LHIND Insight Suite independently, depending on the technology used, or you can assign people to scan and log data as an intermediate step.
- Everything from a small-budget pilot to a large-scale solution
Do you have a couple of points you’d like to take care of as quickly as possible, on a small budget, because they’d really help your team? No problem! You can start with things like the hand hygiene module and position location for your ventilators in a defined area and then add further options gradually as you need them.
Depending on the needs of the hospital or other medical facility, it is possible to activate and adjust the individual key components on a customized basis:
The questionnaire module lets users develop libraries of digital questionnaires or checklists, quickly and easily. These items are then transferred to a mobile device and processed by the appropriate employee. Completion of tasks is documented digitally on the device and then reported back to the platform.
The use or allocation of questionnaires can be restricted to a definable group of persons if, for example, certain qualifications are needed to respond. It is also possible to assign the checklists to specific assets or locations.
The results of a questionnaire can also be automatically distributed to a specific group of recipients as needed using definable rules. This automatically initiates follow-up actions on the basis of current information. Completed questionnaires or checklists can also be equipped with a blockchain key as needed to ensure data integrity and protect data against tampering and manipulation.
To be able to interact within a blockchain network, a participant requires a pair of keys consisting of one public digital key and one private one, which can either be generated by the participant directly or assigned from elsewhere. The public key is like the participant’s address. It is used for identification purposes. The private key, in turn, can be used to sign transactions that someone wishes to execute within the network, thereby proving that they originate with the person in question.
Questionnaire and checklist examples:
- Cleaning of patient rooms
All tasks involved in properly cleaning a patient room are incorporated into the checklist, including changing bed linens, emptying the trash, replacing towels, cleaning the sink, checking and refilling soap and disinfectant, etc.
- Checking that surgical sets are complete
After a procedure has been performed, the OR and equipment must be cleaned in full, and the necessary materials need to be prepared for the next operation. Digital checklists make it easier to do the task while making sure nothing important is overlooked.
Simple or more detailed position location technology and tracking solutions can be used to localize objects or, if necessary, people within the hospital. This solution can be implemented in certain sensitive areas, such as the ICU, or in entire buildings. Depending on the technology, the locations are reported to the platform via different channels. This makes it possible to find things quickly, eliminating the need for time-consuming searches and manual location documentation. The system can even show information such as “available,” “in use” or “booked” status.
The LHIND Insight Suite is compatible with all standard position location technologies.
Near-field communication, or NFC, tags can be used in conjunction with a mobile application (on a tablet, for example) to trigger workflows. In this scenario, the mobile device recognizes the tag and sends information to the platform. This makes it possible to build a simple bed management system at very low cost, for example, or to manage and document maintenance processes for medical devices efficiently. This technology can also be used to monitor compliance with hygiene rules.
A special localization infrastructure that enables position location down to the centimeter level unlocks a whole spectrum of additional options. Localization technologies based on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) have proven their value in practice. When integrated into a position location module, they make it possible to pinpoint items down to a 20-centimeter area. These precise, location-based data points for persons and objects are captured over time and then visualized in electronic maps, giving users a complete overview in real time.
It is also easy to define areas of any size and shape within a map (“geofences”) in the system. Events like “object leaves area A” and “object enters area B” can be used for workflows or business rules in this way.
- Localization of medical equipment and assets such as ventilators, etc.
Where is the machine, and is it in use, pre-booked or available? What is the shortest path to the machine? All information like this can be transmitted to the platform and displayed by the platform.
- Compliance with hygiene rules
Have physicians and nurses followed the rules on hand hygiene? Did the person visit the disinfectant dispenser before and after approaching the patient bed, and so on? These kinds of information can be logged using the position location solution and documented for audits as well.
- Bed management
Which bed is where, and which beds are occupied or available, clean or dirty, on the way to the OR right now or pre-booked for use? Localizing patient beds makes it possible to implement bed management practices while also offering an overview of the relevant status in real time.
- Protection against theft of expensive medical equipment
Devices equipped with localization tags trigger a warning in the system as soon as they leave the area defined for them within the system. This helps to prevent theft of expensive medical equipment.
The cleverly designed automatic Workflow Engine can be used to visualize clinical processes intuitively. The workflows are started by specific events (a date, for example) and trigger defined actions as they progress. For example, if step 1 has been successfully completed, a push message or e-mail containing a checklist or other information is automatically sent to a mobile device. The next step might be to supply certain information to external systems via interfaces or something similar.
The LHIND Insight Suite features predefined workflows and rules that recreate things like hand hygiene processes. This means the workflow in the system is like a digital “twin” of the process in real everyday life at the hospital. Users can incorporate additional rules into the system very easily using a graphical user interface.
- Patient discharge
When a patient is approaching discharge, a checklist is typically processed. Specific workflows for aspects such as bed management can also be initiated for patient discharge purposes, and information can be supplied to hospital systems.
- Medical equipment service
The system sends a reminder e-mail to the appropriate employee or even places a service order directly, with plenty of lead time before the next date when a piece of equipment needs service. Once the service has been performed, the result and the next service date are recorded in the system.
Users can use the report generation tool to analyze and visualize real-time data, thereby generating and providing reports. This helps your employees better understand trends and behavior patterns and ultimately make better decisions based on current facts.
Putting these insights to work within your facility’s continuous improvement process helps to boost efficiency and equipment capacity utilization while documenting compliance with rules and lowering costs.
A broad spectrum of everyday processes in clinical or other medical settings can be digitalized in whole or in part using our IoT platform, achieving significant simplification.
Hand hygiene is hugely important at hospitals and nursing facilities in order to prevent the spread of hospital germs or infection with viruses or infectious bacteria.
Our module supports compliance with hand hygiene rules in digital form, documenting consistent compliance for audits and other documentation obligations.
Crash carts, which are present in all units at a hospital, need regular checks to ensure that they are fully stocked and that all medications are still usable.
Our digital solution facilitates these checks and greatly reduces the manual work involved in checking the carts.
The stringent quality standards and rules that apply in hospitals, nursing facilities and other areas of the healthcare system are intended to reduce human error, streamline processes and tackle economic challenges. Regular audits are performed to review and validate these standards, necessitating detailed documentation in day-to-day operations. These time-consuming tasks pose great challenges to management and staff.
Digital questionnaires can provide excellent support here and significantly reduce the time and effort involved. They enable transparent processes and clear assignment of responsibilities, contributing to compliance with the requirements that apply in the healthcare setting. Thanks to advanced IoT technology, nursing staff can use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to take care of a number of tasks:
- Process checklists digitally and transmit them to the central platform for storage and analysis
- Scan areas and have the system verify whether all critical materials and working supplies are in their place and in perfect condition
- Receive automatic messages when a device requires service
- Receive notification from the system when medications are running low or need to be replaced, etc.
Time-consuming processes that used to be performed entirely by hand are eliminated, along with unnecessary and redundant tasks. All processes managed via the LHIND Insight Suite are inherently documented. Based on this data, the analyses required as part of an audit can be provided quickly and with little investment of time and effort at any time.
Many hospitals manage beds centrally. Automated occupancy management can optimize bed occupancy while keeping treatment consistent. Key processes include short-term planning and occupancy for beds and emergency patient coordination. Homogeneous bed occupancy is the goal. The use of external service providers for re-processing and checks can also be considered here.
Our module makes these very things possible and provides a central overview of bed location and status in real time.
Forward-looking maintenance makes it possible to prevent equipment downtime and bottlenecks, ensure optimum availability and reduce costs. Other checks and repair tasks can also be handed quickly, automatically and transparently.
Our platform’s service module offers a wealth of options for this. Both planned and unplanned checks and maintenance tasks can be organized this way. The spectrum extends from
- service management for medical devices and equipment to
- coordinating checks and repairs for building technology equipment and
- reporting defects in fixtures, premises, windows, doors, etc.
Regularly scheduled checks can be set up in the tool for each device and are then prompted automatically. Where necessary, machines can automatically report irregularities in operation to the tool, thereby triggering warning notices and repair inquiries. Staff members can also record repair needs highly intuitively and report them to the department responsible.
A broad array of equipment and medical assets can be digitalized and connected to the platform as objects using electronic tags. Depending on the type of tag and the technology used, these tags convey information on condition and location to the platform directly and independently or via devices actively controlled by staff. Mobile devices like tablets are used to work through checklists and workflows.
Trackable assets and medical equipment
- Oxygen monitors
- Dialysis machines
- Infusion pumps and syringe drivers
- Ultrasound machines
- Monitors, etc.
Technology used to transfer data
- Tablets or smartphones
- NFC tags for semi-automated use: In this solution, the tags are scanned or logged by a member of staff using a mobile device. This device then communicates with the LHIND Insight Suite.
- BLE tags with locators and positioning engine for more comprehensive, more automated use: Devices with these kinds of tags can notify the LHIND Insight Suite of their location independently, without a member of staff being involved.
Practically unlimited possible uses at hospitals and other medical facilities
The range of processes that can be supported digitally is huge. This means the system’s various functions and flexible modules can be used in various healthcare facilities.
- Tracking paths of infection
- Indoor navigation for patients
- Registering damage by location and person
- Bed management
- Preventing or impeding theft of medical equipment
- Real-time position location for medical technology
- Expanded access control
- Emergency call button
- Protection against abduction of newborns
- Reporting when patients with dementia leave certain zones, etc.
- Emergency medical services
- Rehab facilities
- Nursing homes
- Day care centers for the elderly
- Large physician practices that use high-tech medicine
The LHIND Insight Suite offers practically unlimited possibilities for improving processes in healthcare through consistent digitalization. However, the technological possibilities should not cause people to lose sight of day-to-day clinical practices and procedures. Digitalization is best viewed as a journey aimed at improving operational procedures step by step. Bringing all stakeholders on board during planning and integrating process digitalization into the continuous improvement process are important success factors.
Interested in our solution? Feel free to make an appointment with us! We would be delighted to learn more about the challenges you face and to present our solution to you in detail. In the current situation, we also offer convenient online sessions.