Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
04:02 PM

Emergency Room Patients Tracked With RFID Tags

EHR vendor Meditech is integrating its system with Awarepoint's tracking software for better emergency care.

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Awarepoint, a San Diego-based vendor of real-time location systems (RTLS) for healthcare environments, will integrate its technology with Meditech's enterprise electronic health record (EHR) in an effort to improve throughput and patient safety in hospital emergency departments.

The partnership combines Awarepoint's awareEDtracker system with the EHR's ED management module, known as Meditech EDM. As patients present in a hospital's ED, they are registered in the EDM, then given radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags so awareEDTracker can find them. The RTLS technology also records patient interaction with physicians and other ED staff, who wear tracking tags, too.

As a patient moves through the ED, the Awarepoint system sends real-time updates to the Meditech EHR. Staff can view patient locations on a large-screen electronic tracking grid, at individual workstations, or on mobile devices.

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"Our system essentially becomes air-traffic control for the department," explained Jaime Ojeda, Awarepoint's executive VP for business development and marketing.

After registration and triage, the RTLS finds open beds for patients, then looks for available doctors, nurses, and other relevant staff to dispatch to the bedside. "We can send messages through our interface to mobile devices," Ojeda said, which eliminates the need for inefficient and bothersome manual, overhead paging.

The RTLS time-stamps when staff enters the room and performs various procedures, and then sends this information to the EHR. For patients with serious acute conditions, the tracking system can help the hospital monitor critical quality metrics such as door-to-balloon time--the period from arrival in the ED until catheterization in the cardiac cath lab--for people suffering from heart attacks.

It also helps management monitor whether clinicians have sanitized their hands prior to examining a patient and keep tabs on expensive medical equipment so staff doesn't have to waste time hunting for diagnostic devices. "We give them a lot of rich data that's accurate," Ojeda tells InformationWeek Healthcare.

Awarepoint said that 210-bed Monongahela Valley Hospital, Monongahela, Pa., is the first hospital in the country to implement the EHR-RLTS combination. "We can now automatically transmit the location of every patient in our ED in real time from awareEDTracker to Meditech [EHR]. The integration of these two technologies is improving data accuracy and increasing the efficiency and productivity of our staff," hospital president CEO Louis J. Panza Jr. said in an Awarepoint release.

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Lisa Henderson
Lisa Henderson,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/25/2011 | 11:48:17 PM
re: Emergency Room Patients Tracked With RFID Tags
I thought there might be some similarities with this article from last week on smart hosptial rooms and there are in patient safety and helping clinicians and staff in doing their jobs more effectively.

Lisa Henderson, InformationWeek Healthcare, contributing editor

User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2011 | 8:02:10 PM
re: Emergency Room Patients Tracked With RFID Tags
I have to admit that, normally, if I see any story about RFID being used to track people it sets off all kinds of alarms in my head. But this is a smart and potentially life saving way to use RFID. Really, its the way it was intended to be used.

Jim Rapoza is an InformationWeek Contributing Editor
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