Hospital Beds Get a Smart Makeover

Hospital beds, which are an important component of patient care and recovery, can also be a source of injury especially for elderly adults who may develop bedsores or become trapped between bedrails, the mattress or the bed frame.  Until recently, the hospital bed has remained largely unchanged since the 1950s when electrical motors were added to allow for greater adjustability and ease for hospital staff.   But hospital beds across Canada are about to see a vast overhaul if all goes to plan.

According to a recent Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation blog, Norwegian startup Ably Medical is about to launch a smart hospital bed that utilizes artificial intelligence to improve safety and comfort for both patients and caregivers.  In acute care hospitals across Canada, more than 3,000 cases of pressure ulcers are reported each year and traditional hospital beds pose fall and safety risks for elderly patients, particularly for those living with dementia. 

With the use of sensors that monitor vital signs as well as weight, motorized springs will adjust to the needs of individuals, helping to turn patients and prevent pressure points that can develop into sores.  The bed also helps caregiving staff from straining or injuring themselves by assisting in moving patients.  The bed will adjust to cradle a patient when sensors detect a potential fall, giving staff time to react before an injury can occur.  Sensors can also alert hospital staff if a patient’s health is declining, potentially reducing health care costs while maintaining quality care. 

The Ably Bed is still undergoing testing in hospital settings and it is hoped that the bed will be launched in Canada in 2021.  Learn more about the re-engineering of the hospital bed and opportunities for safer and more comfortable care for older patients here.