IBM, UPMC Partner On Hospital 'SmartRoom'

SmartRoom systems, now deployed at two University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospitals, identifies clinicians, providing real-time access to patient information and workflow tools based on role and location of caregiver.

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, Senior Writer, InformationWeek

July 28, 2010

2 Min Read

A touchscreen monitor located near the patient's bed automatically display's a "HIPAA screen" with basic patient safety related info, including patient name, allergies, and precautions such as patient being at risk for falls, said Sharbaugh. The monitor also displays the identity of the healthcare worker for the patient to view.

With a push of a button on the tag, additional patient information based on the tag wearer's role is displayed on the screen.

So, while a hospital food worker delivering a meal tray will see the patient's dietary information and known food allergies, a nurse assigned to care for the patient will see additional real-time information pulled from the patient's e-health record, such as test results, medications that are due, and tasks that need to be preformed, such as the changing of a catheter or bandage. Doctors see information relevant to their role with the patient.

The data displayed also allows clinicians to find, collect and enter information more easily, such as patients' vital signs.

UPMC simulation lab testing on SmartRoom found that use of the technology can save nurses 60% to 80% of the time they normally spend documenting routine patient information such as vital signs, said Michael Boroch, SmartRoom CEO, who was previously a healthcare consultant and an executive at IBM Healthcare.

UPMC decided to use Sonitor ultrasound technology rather than RFID for the location-based system because "ultrasound is very good at defining where the tag is within a couple feet," said Sharbaugh, who was previously a senior director in UPMC’s Center for Quality Improvement and Innovation.

The ultrasound technology provides "sub-room accuracy," said Boroch.

"We want the SmartRoom caregiver screen to only turn on when the caregiver is in the room near the patient, not waking by the room, for example," he said.

"The same is true for leaving the room, we want the caregiver screen to know it's time to shut down."

This is also important when there are more than one patient in the room. In a semi-private room, the tag "knows where the caregiver is and opens only that caregiver screen," Boroch said.

"Some RFID technologies will detect things right through a wall – and that does not work for us," he said.

UPMC has used the SmartRoom technology in patient units of about two dozen beds each at two of its UPMC Shadyside and Montefiore facilities. However the plan is roll out SmartRoom at UPMC's other hospitals, especially medical-surgical units.

SmartRoom "is like Garmin for caregivers at the bedside," said Boroch.

While UPMC uses Cerner e-medical record systems in its inpatient settings, SmartRoom will be available to hospitals regardless of the vendor platform used for their clinical information system, said Sharbaugh.

IBM will provide the services and technology to integrate SmartRoom with those hospitals' e-medical records and other clinical information systems, said Boroch.

About the Author(s)

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Senior Writer, InformationWeek

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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