Surgical block 4.0: a digital intervention based on a real-time location patient-flow solution to support the automation of surgical pathways

Future Healthc J. 2022 Jul;9(2):194-199. doi: 10.7861/fhj.2022-0005.


As internet of things (IoT) technologies are increasingly adopted by healthcare and hospitals, new opportunities are emerging to transform patient pathways and achieve efficient delivery of care. This implemented project follows the drivers and requirements of industry 4.0, based on surgical process analysis and optimisation using IoT technology, with the goal of creating '4.0 hospitals'. Our study presents the implementation of a novel IoT application, aiming to give support to multidisciplinary surgical teams through the optimisation of patient pathways to facilitate the surgical process. The implemented solution is based on real-time location systems (RTLS) technology, a subgroup within IoT, and it originated through the hospital needing to address the sudden surge of surgical elective care demand. The solution also enhances patient safety, facilitates quality of care by increasing communication and reduces costs. This IoT tool has facilitated the increase of theatre utilisation from 70.02% to 82.5% in 2 years, which has translated into an increase of surgical activity capacity, with an impact on reducing the waiting list.

Keywords: internet of things; patient flow; real-time location solutions; surgical pathways automation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports