Hospitals across the U.S. are working to improve their efficiency; the health care industry has faced intense scrutiny to cut costs and improve patient care. A recently released study concluded that poor care resulted in the deaths of Medicare patients. An engineer in New Hampshire has developed a hospital bed that could improve efficiency and cut patient discomfort.

Dr. John LaCourse, the chairman of the University of New Hampshire's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has developed an algorithm to create a hospital bed that is "smart" and communicates with other medical devices like x-ray machines and blood pressure monitors to better monitor a patient's health; the smart bed essentially makes it easier to keep track of a patient's condition.

His software can easily be implemented in hospital beds without any modifications, providing cost savings on installation costs. "Medical errors are generated because devices don't talk to each other," Dr. LaCourse affirmed. "What we're trying to do is break down that wall, work with the manufacturers, and see if we could get the common bus to be used."

One example of the smart bed's use is its ability to determine whether a patient is at risk of apnea, when breathing stops. If a patient were to stop breathing, the bed would automatically change positions until the condition improves. Dr. Anuj K Dalal, a hospitalist at Boston's famed Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in an interview that smart beds are an "interesting concept."

"There is definitely interest in people trying to figure out how to monitor a patient's status in real time," Dr. Dalal said. 
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