by Nancy Ryerson
, Staff Writer | January 15, 2014
From the January 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Hospital workers who are fans of the CBS Sherlock Holmes show Elementary may recognize a familiar sight on an upcoming episode.
A wealthy, eccentric character who has fallen ill outfitted his bedroom to fit his every need — complete with a modern, decked-out hospital bed from manufacturer Sizewise.
“High tech medical equipment is transcending Hollywood now,” says Mary Nell Westbrook, marketing manager at Sizewise. The show features a fancy version of the company’s flagship bed, the Navigator. And while the bed on the small screen may be an exaggerated version, the beds found in hospitals today are indeed fitted with helpful accessories like an iPad-like device called Tui that takes in patient data, and low air-loss mattresses that adjust pressure points based on patient preference.
Hospital beds are where most patients spend the majority of their time, after all, and new “smart beds,” help patients stay safe, while “smart” capabilities help nurses analyze information and improve patient care. The beds connect to EMR networks to send patient data and help nurses monitor patient statistics such as movement and weight changes.
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Technology companies are joining in the smart bed trend, too, offering useful tools that can work in harmony with the beds to yield even more valuable data.
Innovations are giving this sometimes sleepy industry a needed nudge. Thanks to the rise of the “smart bed,” the industry is slated to grow at a rate of 4.2 percent over the next few years. The industry was worth $2.5 billion in 2012, according to an IBISWorld market research report.
Not free falling
One major focus of “smart bed” advances is improving patient safety and comfort throughout a potentially lengthy hospital stay. Though patient safety has always been a focus, the Affordable Care Act has made patient satisfaction and comfort even more important.
“With the occurrence of patient falls, skin integrity, pulmonary concerns, and organizational risk (caregiver injury) on the rise, hospitals are looking for products that help reduce these risks and improve outcomes,” says Amy Stromswold, marketing manager at Stryker Medical.
Falls in particular are a point of concern. The BAM Labs Touch-free Life Care (TLC) Platform uses a sensor to help prevent patient falls. The TLC sensor is placed under the mattress of any type of bed.
Rather than just letting nurses know when a patient is getting out of bed, the technology also creates reports of patient movement that nurses can look at for patterns.