Recent scientific achievements and technological advances have brought forward a massive display of new or updated medical devices, enabled with highly-developed embedded-control functions and interactivity. From the final decade of the twentieth century, medical beds have particularly been affected by this surge, taking on new forms and functions, while accommodating to established properties that have become well-known for these devices. The past fifteen years have also brought forward changes to conceptual frameworks, concerning the product design and manufacturing processes (standards), as well as the patient (perspectives on patient-care environments and accessibility). This work presents a state-of-art survey on electric medical beds, representing what is defined as the time of "smart beds", as part of an increasingly comprehensive patient-care environment.
A survey and assessment of market trends, research efforts and standards related to smart medical beds was performed, covering a wide range of public records of intellectual property, models and related healthcare solutions, as well as relevant research efforts in the field between 2000 and 2016. Contextual topics, necessary for the understanding of this subject, on novel technologies, disability and the reach of healthcare systems, were also researched and interpreted.
The new generation of electric medical beds is defined, with the final stage of the proposed timeline for these devices being covered. Functional, aesthetic and interactive features are presented, and the current global market for medical beds and related standards are also assessed. Finally, discussions concerning rising challenges and opportunities for these systems are explored, with the potential for adding further monitoring and assistive implementations into medical devices and environments being highlighted.
Smart medical beds are integrated solutions for patient care, assistance and monitoring, based on a comprehensive, multidisciplinary design approach. Research in this field is critical in a context of global ageing, and powered by a surge in opportunities for accessibility solutions. Smart beds, seamlessly integrated into the healthcare system, have a unique opportunity in enabling more efficient efforts for caregivers, and more responsive environments for patients.