A series of Internet of Things (IoT) testbeds will be developed across hospitals and healthcare facilities in the Highlands and Islands as part of a bid to explore how NHS Highland can drive efficiency, and enhance user and staff experience.

The initial set of networks will be rolled out over the next few months at Lorn & Islands Hospital in Oban, Fort William’s Belford Hospital and Caithness General Hospital in Wick, with more to follow. A testbed is already set up and operational at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. 

Supported by CENSIS, Scotland’s centre of excellence for sensor and imaging systems and IoT, and Capita, which is rolling out public sector IoT networks with the Scottish Government, the testbeds will be used to explore a wide array of non-clinical applications for NHS Highland. These could range from monitoring the health board’s environmental impact to supporting patient safety.

Alan Whiteside, innovation consultant for NHS Highland, said: “NHS Highland has a massive area to cover and, generally speaking, the larger the area, the greater the cost. That’s why it is so important for us to optimise our assets, facilities, and, potentially, even re-assess how our services are designed. Ultimately, we want to deliver better healthcare services to our communities, and the use of technology will be an integral part of how we achieve that by managing the estate remotely, improving performance, and reducing costs.” 

Cabinet secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, said: “By creating a platform for innovation, these IoT initiatives can make a real difference to the delivery and efficiency of health services in the Highlands, an area of immense beauty, but also vast distances and a geographically dispersed population. But I’m clear that the Internet of Things is an enormous opportunity for Scotland – improving everyday life, tackling climate change, boosting our economy and enriching public services such as the NHS. Certainly, I want Scotland to fully embrace sensor technologies, so we’re working closely with CENSIS to educate and enthuse our businesses, public sector and the wider public about the tremendous possibilities on offer.”

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