Up until now, the IT department monitored the medicine refrigerators and storage rooms using a thermostat. The medical staff would then write down the figures manually, several times a day.  The reason for this being that documentation printed on paper is important for audits and the canton pharmacy. There was no such thing as an automated alarm once there was a significant temperature fluctuation.

The monitoring technology implemented was replaced regularly by newer technology to fulfil the the canton’s legal requirements for calibration and certification to guarantee that temperature regulations are complied with. On the one hand this caused high investment costs, and on the other hand it also led to an enormous amount of electronic waste. Domicil’s IT team knew that it needed an automated, flexible and above all sustainable solution.

A holistic solution – From the sensor to the IoT platform.

Bechtle’s experts got to shine with their professional knowledge on the Internet of Things (IoT) by providing a suitable and smart solution. For the purpose of data generation, Bechtle implemented temperature and air quality sensors with an operating life of four to ten years. By including an LNS (LoRa network server) as well as the corresponding transfer devices (gateways) the way was paved for Domicil’s IoT network. Each configuration only requires one gateway. The sensors send data every five minutes, which leads to temperature curves being documented automatically and warnings being sent, if required.

The sensors connect to an IoT software platform via the LoRa gateway. The advantages of a Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) are that sensors and gateways can be easily connected across large distances with little use of energy. This in turn increases the battery life of the sensors.

Domicil’s goal is to enable an active, happy and independent lifestyle in retirement. Fashioned after charitable organisations, Domicil employs around 1,800 employees from 68 nations who care for 1,700 residents. Domicil has 23 locations in the canton of Bern, five of which make up the Domicil competence centre for dementia. Furthermore, Domicil’s interim care, meal service, the private Spitex AG as well the Friedens-Apotheke pharmacy Bern all belong the Domicil’s portfolio of services. An IT team of five is responsible for the company-wide information and communication technology.

Bechtle developed a suitable IoT platform with the help of Microsoft .NET technology as a control suite for the sensors and gateways. All data and analyses converge on the this platform. The fully cloud-based control suite is operated within a Microsoft Azure environment. Cloud compatibility enabled Domicil to test the solution before making its final decision in the form of a Proof of Concept (PoC). It soon became clear that the Bechtle Control Suite was up to scratch and that it provides an excellent basis for monitoring further parameters such as air quality, humidity, pollen load as well as other needs that may arise in the future.

Useful and long-lasting technology.

Bechtle’s IoT solution covers over 100 critical temperature locations at Domicil’s 23 locations. The sensors used have been certified and calibrated for at least four years. The savings made by using this new technology are significant. The sensors only have to be checked every four years and can be replaced in the event of damage, which equates to a saving of 16,000 working hours for Domicil. This is time that the care workers can now use to focus on what matters—caring for and supervising their patients.

With the new temperature surveillance solution we have taken a big step towards digitalisation. Thanks to Bechtle we are now implementing an economically-friendly and sustainable technology with enormous potential.

Marc Patzen, Head of ICT, Domicil Bern

Marc Patzen

The automatic, intelligent medicine surveillance system triggers an alarm when something is out of order. In the event of variations in temperature, the solution sends an e-mail to the care person responsible. The central IoT platform evaluates everything independently. The report gives exact indications where there were fluctuations from the guidelines and need for action—a huge relief in everyday business and a guarantee for passing any audits scheduled for the future.

This is an excerpt of an article in the print edition of Bechtle update 02/2018.