Our five interns, Sophie, Ioana, Filis, Jiaqi and Amos spent 9 weeks this summer working on solutions aimed at improving equipment tracking and people navigation in hospitals.
The internship began with Filis, an MSc student in medical anthropology, dedicating several weeks to observing both patients and staff at a local hospital. Two consistent issues that emerged were the difficulty in communication among staff during the different daily events of a patient’s care, and the time taken to find necessary equipment for standard patient monitoring. These challenges caused frustration for staff and introduced inefficiencies in the system that were difficult to track simply by observing.
Presented with this problem, Ioana, Jiaqi and Amos started by exploring the feasibility of developing a simple product that could monitor the location and movement of equipment and people. They started by using inexpensive ESP32 microcontrollers to listen for Bluetooth signals from mobile phones and Bluetooth beacons (small wireless tags that emit a unique and constant Bluetooth signal). The goal was to utilise this data to understand the complex dynamics of people and equipment movement within the hospital and to establish a reference point for comparing potential future enhancement strategies.
During this stage of development, the interns created programs for Bluetooth data processing and analysis to interpret each signal. Their aim was to associate Bluetooth data with specific device types and pinpoint their locations within indoor areas through triangulation. Device location was fairly straightforward, but mobile phones constantly change their Bluetooth identifiers (mac addresses) and this made following one device for more than a few minutes extremely challenging. Despite some stellar work from Jiaqi on pattern matching Bluetooth signal strengths and timings, this approach was eventually parked as other ideas for how to address the problem were emerging.
Sophie began interviewing hospital staff, patients and visitors. Perhaps surprisingly all groups shared a common struggle of finding their way around hospitals. This was particularly true for patients trying to find their clinic and sometimes arriving late, to be told they had ‘missed their slot’, but also for new members of staff.
This new finding provided the impetus for the interns to pivot their approach and develop a mobile app that used an indoor map of the hospital to help staff, patients and visitors find their way around the hospital. This app also listens out for specific Bluetooth beacons so it can be used to locate hospital equipment and therefore help staff find missing equipment.
A more detailed project page will be added to the website soon.
2024 Internship Applications open now!
Are you fascinated by technology, keen to work on a real world problem, a team worker and innovator? Then we want to hear from you!
Applications are open now for our 2024 internship scheme. Come and be part of our team next summer.