Leaders from social care, local authorities and the NHS were due to gather today in Inverness to explore the potential use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in health and hospital estates.

Hosted by CENSIS, Scotland’s centre of excellence for sensor and imaging systems and IoT, in partnership with NHS Highland, the latest ‘FutureTech’ seminar focuses on designing IoT into real-world, user-centred projects. Following the event, CENSIS will help develop viable project ideas that come from discussions with advice and funding.

Delegates will look at how IoT can be integrated into vital applications in health and social care including communication networks to help people live independently for as long as possible, to tracking portable, expensive pieces of equipment in hospital buildings to find them easily. 

Discussions at the event were to be non-technical and include a focus on how IoT can improve the sustainability and efficiency of estate planning within the NHS and social care sector. A range of speakers were due to give presentations throughout the day, and attendees will share their own experiences of applying IoT to health estate planning.

Statistics from the Scottish Government[2] have put the total floor space of NHS assets at more than 4.3 million square metres across 16 health boards, highlighting the large and sprawling nature of the healthcare estate in Scotland.

Dr Stephen Milne, Business Development Manager at CENSIS, said: “It’s appropriate that this event be held in NHS Highland, which covers an area the size of Wales – making it the largest geographic health board in the UK. As such, it has unique challenges which IoT technology can help tackle.

“Increasing the efficiency of estates in the NHS and social care could improve sustainability and save public money. Understanding better how rooms are used, what buildings are in need of repair at an earlier stage, and being able to track expensive, portable assets are all real-world examples of where IoT could have a significant impact.”

The workshop is part of a wider programme of business support commissioned by the Scottish Government and delivered by CENSIS to explore and support the use of IoT in Scotland’s key sectors. The first workshop, on IoT applications in transport, was held in Edinburgh in June. Further workshops on tourism, smart cities and food and drink have also taken place.

Also included in the programme will be three CENSIS IoT technology development kits, aimed at businesses without in-house expertise. Two ‘how-to’ guides designed to educate and inform organisations about the basics of IoT and the importance of cyber security have also been published.

Alan Whiteside, Innovation Consultant for NHS Highland, added: “IoT will be crucial in improving the way we plan our estate in the NHS. From monitoring water temperature to alert us when bacteria could be present to gathering data remotely so that staff don’t need to spend as much time travelling, the opportunities are vast.

“Given the size of our estate, being able to gather data remotely will save staff time and crucial resources for NHS Highland, all resulting in a better service for patients.”