Hospital Tracks Equipment With Real-Time Ultrasound System - InformationWeek

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4/12/2010
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Hospital Tracks Equipment With Real-Time Ultrasound System

IBM location software and Sonitor ultrasound system saves Saint Michael's time and money.

As part of an effort to increase efficiency and save money, Saint Michael's Medical Center will install IBM's Real-Time Location Services software and Sonitor Technologies' ultrasound infrastructure to track equipment, alert staff when inventories are low and ensure compliance with patient safety regulations.

The $300,000 system will track more than 2,000 pieces of equipment at the 350-bed, acute-care hospital in Newark, N.J., including heart monitors, infusion pumps, and ventilators. It will also track patients from room to room. The system uses ultrasound receivers and tagging technology that communicates with the Saint Michael's wireless infrastructure. The hospital will attach tags to equipment that broadcast a unique identification signal to receivers without the risk of electromagnetic interference with other electronic medical equipment.

The new systems helps St. Michael's find equipment that needs maintenance. In the past, nurses have had to spend time away from patients searching for lost equipment, hospital executives said. The hospital's biomedical engineering team, who are charged with servicing and maintaining the equipment, are also challenged when they can't find the equipment they're assigned to manage and maintain.

"We do have a lot of equipment that disappears such as wheel chairs, IV pumps and heart monitors, and nurses spend a lot of time looking for equipment," said Angelo Schittone, VP and CIO at Saint Michael's.

The tracking technology will provide cost savings in other ways. The cost benefit is twofold, Schittone said: "One is we're able to track equipment so that our technicians can service them more efficiently, which saves in a technician's time. The other benefit is the equipment is actually maintained on a regular basis so that the equipment should last longer because it's maintained better," he said.

The tracking system can help nurses schedule patient care with greater efficiency as they move among departments for testing, Schittone said.

Real-time location tags on patients let nurses know, for example, if a patient is out of his or her room taking a radiology exam when a tray of food has to be delivered, Schittone said, so they take the food up when the patient returns.



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