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Spain's Hospital de la Vega Gets Connected

An IoT platform gathers data from multiple sources, puts it in context and disperses critical information in real time, improving patient care and internal processes.
By Jennifer Zaino
Aug 21, 2016

Synergy is the byword at Hospital de la Vega, a private hospital in Murcia, Spain, that provides basic medical services and specialized procedures such as extracorporeal cardiac surgery.

In 2015, Hospital de la Vega conducted a pilot of the MySphera Internet of Things (IoT) platform that integrates data from various sources, including electronic health records (EHR), health information systems (HIS), lab and X-ray systems, and a real-time location system (RTLS) that tracks patients and assets. The IoT platform puts all the data in context and makes the information easily accessible, whenever and wherever it's needed. Physicians, nurses, clinicians and hospital administrators can use the information to make smart decisions in real time, to improve processes and patient care, lower costs and deliver better communications to patients' families during medical procedures, says Hospital de la Vega's CEO Carlos Arenas.

Bluetooth Low Energy tags are attached to patients' bracelets. The BLE beacons, which were installed in the ceilings throughout the hospital, identify the tags.
Before implementing the IoT platform, Hospital de la Vega suffered from low synergy across information sources, Arenas says. Health-care workers would have to go to workstations and log into separate systems to get patient information, such as blood type, medications or status of test results, and to locate medical devices in an asset database. They didn't always know where particular patients were at any given moment, or how long they had been in particular parts of the hospital. It was difficult to find the closest portable X-ray or other life-saving equipment. Without information synergy, they weren't able to fully understand all the facets of a particular case or issue when decisions had to be made to treat patients who required immediate care.

Hospital de la Vega was selected as a pilot site to use MySphera because the hospital's management team embraced the IoT concept. MySphera is part of the Future Internet Challenge eHealth (FICHe) project, which encourages European health organizations to develop innovative applications using FI–Ware open-platform technology. The project was funded by the European Union.

"MySphera would be able to validate the system in several hospital processes—including hospitalization, emergency, surgery, equipment—with the chief of services' support and commitment," says Elena González, chief of emergency nursing, who led the MySphera implementation for the hospital's emergency department.

Today, Hospital de la Vega caregivers and administrators use dashboard applications on tablets, large-screen TVs or PCs to securely identify and control the flow of patients and assets. MySphera also provides business intelligence tools that hospital managers use to visualize workflows and analyze data. The solution has led to cost reductions from shorter patient stays and revenue increases from improved patient throughput. Surveys conducted by the hospital to measure the impact of the IoT project reveal high levels of staff, patient and family satisfaction, Arenas says. Staff members have a greater sense of control over processes and equipment, he adds, and more trust in the information provided for improving processes.

The IoT Infrastructure
The FI-Ware platform—an enhanced OpenStack cloud environment plus a set of standard application program interfaces (APIs)—underlies the cloud-based MySphera RTLS. It functions as a horizontal hospital process-information system for merging data from different sources. "The MySphera IoT system proposes a completely new technical design, so it can be easily and cheaply deployed in any environment without high up-front investment using technologies that can be useful for many applications," Arenas says.

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