According to estimates of the German Federal Statistical Office about 23 million people in Germany will be 65 or older in 2050. That corresponds to 33 percent of our population. Nearly 52,000 people will reach the age of 100, and this figure is set to increase. The need for skilled care and nursing staff is constantly growing; to meet it is becoming ever more difficult. Modern technology will, in future, be able to support hospital and nursing home personnel in keeping an eye on corridors and traffic routes in order to respond immediately in an emergency.
The camera system recognizes a simple pointing gesture and automatically sends a message to staff, for example on a mobile device.
Photo: Manfred Zentsch © Fraunhofer IOSB 2013
After visiting hours the station hall is suddenly silent and empty. The ward round has just been completed and most patients are in their rooms.
From now on, the number of carers is reduced to minimum levels for the late and night shift. A single carer is now responsible for up to four stations. But he is supported by a new intelligent video surveillance system. The long stretches of corridors and passages between stations are fitted with video cameras.
The images they record are analyzed by special software, which automatically detects people that have fallen or are in distress. Hospital staff or other persons have no access to these videos. When the camera system detects an emergency, the nearest employee receives an alarm signal on their mobile device. Only if he acknowledges the alarm and thereby takes charge of the situation can he access the video footage from the camera and is shown the exact location of the event on a map. If an alarm is not acknowledged within a certain time, other stations or employees are notified.
Privacy is a top priority
Video surveillance in hospitals, of course, requires a high level of data protection as well as the acceptance of those involved. Fraunhofer IOSB is aware of this and specifically deals with the possible concerns of those affected: All cameras are equipped with monitors that show how the collected data is processed. As long as no emergency has been detected the data is analyzed only by the special software, so that patients and hospital staff can rest assured that their privacy is protected. When an emergency is detected the monitor image changes so that the distressed patient can see that a call for assistance has already been sent.
Once the alarm has been acknowledged by a carer, the system establishes a video link between assisting employee and patient. This allows the employee to assess the situation and calm the patient. The patient, in turn, knows that help is on its way and that their data has been sent only to a known person.
At CeBIT 2014 the video system will be presented to the public for the first time. It can be seen at the Fraunhofer stand in Hall 9.
Dipl.-Ing. Sibylle Wirth | Fraunhofer-Institut
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