Sensor technology developed in Edinburgh could use data to cut millions from the £30bn spent by the NHS on estate and faciliHeat Profit
TECHNOLOGY developed in Edinburgh is aiming to create an “Internet of Things revolution” in the National Health Service which could save it millions of pounds.
Beringar will use its sensors to identify and analyse how space across the NHS’s 500 million square foot estate is utilised.
The NHS spends an estimated £30 billion every year managing its estate and the facilities held within it, but consultant-led studies suggest many of its buildings are being used to a fraction of their capacity.
Beringar, working with CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems, has developed a series of sensors which it believes will improve the health service’s understanding of how its buildings and moveable assets, such as hospital beds and crash trolleys, are used.
The sensors transmit data wirelessly, and could replace traditional methods of measuring and assessing the utilisation of buildings. Beringar said the sensors can be used to count the number of people in a room, check building occupancy levels and identify trends in the ways patients and staff use buildings. , while ensuring patient confidentiality is protected.
They can also measure temperature, record air quality and monitor CO2 levels. As the product is developed further, it could be used to sense exactly which beds are vacant in a hospital in real time.
Mark Sorsa-Leslie, co-founder of Beringar, said: “The NHS spends around a quarter of its budget every year on the provision and management of its buildings, but many rooms and equipment aren’t used to their full potential. When NHS health planners want to commission a new service, but can’t see available space in their existing facilities, they might consider leasing or building a new property.”
A recent trial of the technology at the NHS’ Loxford Health Centre in Ilford, Essex confirmed this analysis.
Collecting more than 160,000 data points during a one month test at Loxford, the device detected empty space which staff thought was in regular use. The data enabled estate managers to identify ways to boost the building’s productivity.
Mr Sorsa-Leslie said: “Having the right data could reveal suitable space they already own in that location, saving a significant amount of money, which could be used to improve direct patient care.
“It has been said that in 10 years’ time, London will have expanded the equivalent of the city of Birmingham, and already, London’s population grows at twice the rate of the UK as a whole. Having access to data like this will be extremely important for the health service, as it responds to ever-growing demand.”
Carolyn Botfield, estates director at the NHS, said it was important to identify where the NHS is adding value, and adapt its services to the requirements of the local community as its needs change.
“Clinics are often block-booked, but we have no way of finding out if just a few people, or twenty patients, are attending every week,” she said.
“The sensor will allow us to achieve real-time feedback on how our buildings are being used, enabling us to make smarter decisions.”
Beringar was formed in May 2016 by Mr Sorsa-Leslie and Paul Byrne. It is one of seven companies being supported by CENSIS through its IoT Explorer programme, offering a package of co-ordinated growth support over several months.