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What Is a Bed Management System?

By Steven Symes
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A bed management system helps health care installations, especially hospitals, manage patient placement. Bed management systems may consist of only whiteboards and telephones, or more modern systems may consist of sophisticated computer software. Different management systems employ various methods for optimizing patient bed management. Patient beds do not refer only to the physical beds the patients stay in while being treated, but other resources necessary to care for patients.

Health care facilities that provide in-patient care, such as hospitals, use bed management systems. A bed management system allows a facility’s workers to track down any empty beds left in various sections of the facility, such as the surgery ward or the intensive care unit. When patients need to be transported to other parts of the facility, or to be transported to a separate facility, a bed management system helps determine where the patient should ultimately be placed.

The different bed management systems consist of varying elements. Old and less-sophisticated systems consisted of white boards in every patient room, as well as at nurses stations throughout the facility. More modern systems consist of software that is installed on the various computers in the health care facility, with those computers communicating with each other over the facility’s computer network.

Computerized bed management systems come from a variety of software companies. Pre-made systems have their own unique features, but larger health care facilities may pay a company create a customized system for the health care facility’s unique needs. Some management systems include software to be used on portable devices, such as smart phones or tablet computers, allowing workers to access bed information no matter where they go.

Different systems use varying features to manage patient flow, depending on the brand of the bed management system, as well as any customizations made for a particular health care facility. Most computerized systems allow managers and other workers to see real-time changes in bed occupancy in the various sections of the facility. Systems can also be set up to send alerts to various departments once a bed has been scheduled to be occupied, so workers in those departments can prepare the bed and room before the patient arrives.

Patient placement in beds is not the only thing a bed management system addresses. The system also helps assign nurses to patients and alerts workers in advance to any special preparations that need to be put into place before the patient arrives. Some systems send real-time alerts to the appropriate departments if a room needs to be cleaned or specific equipment needs to be transported to a room.

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