8 ways iBeacons can improve your health

Location-based services are heating up.

First it was check-ins (think Foursquare). That begat unique offers based on geolocations. Now Apple has taken the next step with proximity-based messages and offers — within a location. 

Image source:  Gigaom

Image source: Gigaom

Apple installed iBeacons in all 254 of its U.S. stores earlier this month. The iBeacon system uses low-powered, low-cost transmitters to send messages to users based on their proximity (and users have the option to turn off the messages).

Here's how it works: As iPhone-toting customers walk through one of Apple's retail stores, they can receive messages about products they are standing in front of, news about events that are about to take place or even on-the-spot unadvertised discounts. 

Macy's is also testing Apple's iBeacon service and Major League Baseball said it will use the technology at ballparks this spring. And Apple is not alone, with Qualcomm recently announcing its own proximity beacons, called Gimbal.

How can these be used in health care? Here are eight quick ideas:

  1. Help patients, families and visitors navigate throughout a hospital.
  2. Broadcast wait times at ERs and doctor's offices.
  3. Notify passers by of specials at the cafeteria or the gift shop.
  4. Remind patients that the in-house pharmacy is convenient and quick.
  5. Provide reminders to patients to complete satisfaction surveys.
  6. Remind everyone to wash their hands (everywhere)!
  7. Suggest it's time for a flu shot.
  8. Notification of the urgent need for blood donors.