A Room With a View of the Future

As a nurse approaches a patient’s hospital bed to assist a physician, an alarm sounds, reminding the nurse to wash his hands. This scenario is only the beginning of what's to come in new technologies helping to build better hospital patient rooms.

Attendees of the HIMSS11 annual health care IT conference and exhibition witnessed the handwashing situation and other technologies firsthand at the Healthcare Consortium’s Showcase on radio-frequency identification (RFID) and real-time locating systems (RTLS) in the Hospital Patient Smart Room.

The Hospital Patient Smart Room is a state-of-the-art demonstration space outfitted with the latest innovations in RFID and RTLS. According to Paul Frisch, CTO for the RFID in Healthcare Consortium and Chief Architect of the project, the space was built to show how hospitals are using device interconnectivity to manage safety and other issues.

The patients simulated were a 24-year-old, high-acuity man and a 26-year-old, low-acuity woman and her newborn. The room featured an RFID-coupled asset management database. Other technologies included a wireless system from Ruckus Wireless, which allowed Wi-Fi signals to distribute information to clinicians in real time, as well as Awarepoint’s ZigBee-based wireless mesh network, which monitored humidity and temperature.

When the primary clinician walked into the Hospital Patient Smart Room, she was identified on a monitor, courtesy of her RFID tag. The assistant who was reminded to wash his hands was cleared for patient interaction after washing up at the CenTrak Hand Hygiene Compliance System, also courtesy of RFID. While safety is a main focus of RFID, security is not overlooked: An active bracelet from Visonic Technologies matched the infant to its mother’s bracelet via a dynamic link that could be constantly tracked. An alarm was triggered when an unauthorized attempt was made to remove the baby’s bracelet.

At one point, the primary clinician accidentally dropped her handheld device into the laundry chute when dispensing with some soiled linens. As part of AeroScout’s Asset Tracking solution, a transmitter above the chute’s opening triggered an alarm, demonstrating how RFID can reduce asset shrinkage.

The following were also featured:

  • A Hill-Rom Smart Bed with more than 30 clinical datapoints, including integrated Turn Assist surface data, integrated with Hill-Rom NaviCare Nurse Call to notify caregivers if a patient tried to get out of bed.
  • The high-acuity patient was monitored using the GE CARESCAPE Monitor B850 and the CARESCAPE iPanel, which allows clinicians to view lab results and imaging studies at bedside.
  • The Capsule Neuron touch-screen platform managed connectivity at the patient’s bedside through a built-in reader that detects any RFID-tagged equipment near the bed and allowed the caregiver to permit or prohibit its use.
  • PatientSafe Solutions PatientTouch provided information at the point of care using the Apple iPod touch to ensure medication safety, assist with nursing interventions, and communicate via text and video.

Hospitals considering implementation of these technologies will likely introduce them on a priority basis over time. Each solution typically requires a trial period of approximately two months.

MD News October 2011



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