Leveraging Beacons to Improve Patient Experience

Beacons present several opportunities for an improved healthcare experience. Given Apple’s increased emphasis on iBeacons beginning last September, and its recent announcement of HealthKit, we put our heads together to come up with ways those technologies could create a more advanced mHealth experience.

Hospital admissions

There’s a lot to know if you’re about to admitted to the hospital. Different units (e.g. the Intensive Care Unit) may present different guidelines for first-time patients and their visitors. The Mayo Clinic has their admitting information available on an iPad, but only handed to you post-registration. Their iPads aren’t location-aware which limits information to agenda, doctors and maps, etc.

Beacons would allow this same information to be presented on patient devices upon entering registration, saving the hospital the cost and risk of maintaining their own devices. In addition, beacons can leverage wayfinding and interior geolocation to map routes within the hospital. 

Emergency room

Patients visiting the Emergency Room could gain access to services like mobile device check-in, estimated wait times and queue status via beacons. Apple’s HealthKit seems the first step towards a badly needed solution for the aggregation of medical data on mobile devices. Building on that premise and integrating with beacons, future solutions would enable patient medical history to be automatically transmitted to the hospital ER the moment they came through the doors. Doctors, leveraging their own mobile devices for immediate information access, would already have reviewed patient records to discuss treatments. Assuming patient mobile devices survived extreme situations, this example could be especially valuable in trauma cases.

Post-discharge patient management

Finally, beacons can help with patient management after their discharge. Envision a world where medical apps store all the information a patient would need  (medications, treatments, etc.) to provide informed care at home. As beacons register the patient leaving the hospital, the app could push a coupon from a partner retailer (with the nearest location). Wayfinding at the retail location guides the patient to either the pharmacy or correct aisle with a product display for comparison. Should the store happen to be out of the suggested product or medication, the patient could order the item and ship it home with a single tap in the app.

With the increasing impact of mHealth throughout all aspects of healthcare, we’re excited about the possibilities that beacons present.  Whether it’s easing hospital admissions, refining the ER treatment process, or empowering patients post-discharge, beacons are an exciting component of a rapidly evolving mHealth ecosystem.

(Image sources: http://www.theglobeandmail.com and http://www.skai.gr) 

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