Sonitor ultrasound indoor positioning system and Awarix enterprise patient care visibility system bring accurate patient, equipment and employee tracking to Medical Center East

Largo 04 December 2006Medical Center East (MCE), a 300-bed facility in Birmingham, Alabama, has contracted to install the Sonitor ultrasound indoor positioning system (IPS) along with the Awarix enterprise patient care visibility system to facilitate the tracking and monitoring of medical equipment, employees and patients and to visually broadcast this vital information to staff members throughout the hospital.


Using the Sonitor IPS system and the Awarix visibility system, various critical assets can be tracked and located to room level accuracy in real time. The results of this tracking are then immediately broadcast to all hospital staff members via "electronic whiteboards". MCE plans to use the system to track and prevent loss or misplacement of medical equipment, track employees and work flow processes and track patients to improve patient throughput.

"We are delighted that Medical Center East, Birmingham, has selected the Sonitor ultrasound IPS for its assets tracking programme", stated Terry Aasen, President and CEO of Sonitor Technologies Inc. "The ability to quickly and accurately locate moveable equipment, personnel and patients is a major problem facing medical facilities today. We are confident that MCE will quickly realize the benefits and advantages to using the unique room and bed-level resolution accurate location tracking capabilities of the Sonitor ultrasound IPS.

"The installation at MCE will demonstrate the capabilities of the Sonitor IPS system for tracking and preventing loss or misplacement of medical equipment, as well as showcase how our system can ultimately improve patient care and safety", continued Mr. Aasen. "Furthermore, we believe the MCE installation will validate the business case, in terms of hard ROI numbers, providing the model by which other medical facilities will want to emulate."

"By being able to automate work flow, MCE will be able to improve a number of clinical processes, which will help the hospital improve quality and more effectively comply with Joint Commission standards, many of which require hospital staff members to implement certain interventions in a specified time frame", stated Scott McFarland, CEO and President of Awarix.

The groundbreaking system at MCE uses a visualization platform and Sonitor's ultrasound technology to provide real-time information on patient, equipment and employee location as well as room status and clinical events. As a result, all employees including clinicians, managers and environmental services staff can immediately access vital location and status information simply by glancing at electronic patient care communication whiteboards, which are placed at strategic points throughout the hospital. By presenting a graphic representation of the hospital's floor plan, clinicians and other users can easily access crucial information without disrupting work flow.

"Using Sonitor's ultrasound technology along with Awarix's patient care visibility system enables hospitals to pinpoint exactly where patients, equipment or staff members are at any point in time. Having such easy access to reliable information can truly transform the way hospitals operate, making them more efficient and more effective, which is good not only for staff members but ultimately for patient care as well", Scott McFarland stated.

The Sonitor IPS is a robust, accurate, yet simple tracking solution that addresses the real-time location of moveable equipment and people in complex indoor environments, such as hospitals and other medical facilities. Its patented ultrasound technology ensures that the detectors interpret a Tag's signals with 100 percent room-level accuracy and without risk of interference from any environmental noise or other signals nor interfere with sensitive instruments, which is particularly important in a hospital or medical facility setting. The system is based on a unique and patented use of ultrasound for communications in air that identifies the position of any object or person in real-time. The Sonitor IPS is designed for safety, and all emitted sound pressure levels are within the international regulations for the safe use of ultrasound.

Motion activated "Tags" are attached to mobile equipment items throughout the MCE. The Tag transmits its unique identification signal using ultrasound waves as the object moves throughout the monitored area. Detectors, using Sonitor's patented Digital Signal Processing (DSP) algorithms, transmit signals in digital format via the existing wireless LAN at the MCE to a central computer unit that stores the information about the Tag's location and the time of the receipt of the Tag signal in a software programme. This information enables the MCE staff to retrieve a Tag's position and/or movement and determine precisely by room where the tracked object with that specific Tag is located. Because the transmitted ultrasound signals cannot penetrate walls, the Sonitor Tag signals are impervious to eavesdropping from outside the room or building where they originate. Due to the simple and accurate location detection, only very small amounts of data need to be transmitted over the LAN, so the Sonitor IPS is considered being very network friendly.

Medical Center East, part of Eastern Health System Inc., is a fully integrated health care delivery system serving eastern Jefferson, Blount and St. Clair Counties. The hospital serves more than 273.000 patients per year. The Eastern Health System includes three major medical centres - Medical Center East in Birmingham, Medical Center Blount in Oneonta, and St. Clair Regional Hospital in Pell City, as well as 12 primary care centres in various communities across three counties; a seniors division offering independent and assisted living, as well as long-term care; a three-county home health care network; a hospice programme; a major foundation; a Family Practice Residency Programme, and a wide variety of other health and health care related services.

Sonitor Technologies is the developer, manufacturer and supplier of a proprietary ultrasound indoor positioning system (IPS) that automatically tracks precisely by room the real-time location of moveable equipment and people in complex indoor environments, such as hospitals. The Sonitor IPS uses "Detectors" and "Tags" that are linked through the existing wired or wireless LAN to a digital file containing all vital statistics and information about the item or person being monitored. The motion activated Tag transmits a unique identification signal using ultrasound waves to special Detectors that use Sonitor patented ultrasound signal Digital Signal Processing (DSP) algorithms. The Detectors transmit signals via an existing LAN to a central computer that stores the information about the Tag's room-location and the time of receipt of the signal.

Sonitor's ultrasound technology ensures that detectors interpret Tag signals without risk of interference from any environmental noise or other signals, such as reflections from metallic objects found with radio frequency-based systems (RFIDs), nor interfere with sensitive instruments, which is particularly important in a hospital setting. The system is designed for safety, and all emitted sound pressure levels are within the international regulations for the safe use of ultrasound. Sonitor Technologies was founded in Norway in 1997.

Awarix provides an enterprise patient care visibility solution that allows hospitals and integrated delivery networks to streamline throughput, improve caregiver effectiveness, and increase patient satisfaction. Awarix integrates leading-edge RFID location systems and geospatial visual technologies with the hospital's existing clinical systems to create a real time patient care model that increases capacity and improves patient care. Awarix's web-enabled applications allow for real-time information to be viewed, and acted upon, by all contributors in the care delivery process. Awarix's open, standards-based solution is designed to integrate with all clinical and hospital information systems, creating a unique and seamless visibility layer from which nurses and clinicians can quickly and accurately assess a patient care process, eliminate delays and improve the patient care experience.

Leslie Versweyveld

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