Saint Michael's Medical Center adopts IBM sensor technology for tracking medical equipment

Armonk 09 April 2010Saint Michael's Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey, has turned to IBM for real-time tracking of medical equipment to ensure that life saving medical devices are instantly available and expertly maintained. As health care systems become smarter, complex medical and diagnostic equipment that provides vast amounts of data are moving closer to the patient. However, with new portable tests and imaging devices, equipment is often moved from a patient to decontamination and then to another patient, or shared among different departments, yet it is common for hospitals to lose track of these mobile assets. For example, a portable telemetry device used to record electrical activity of the heart can easily get lost in bed sheets and sent to the laundry, costing thousands of dollars to replace.


Saint Michael's Medical Center is using IBM's Real-Time Location Services (RTLS) and ultrasound RTLS infrastructure from Sonitor Technologies to automatically track equipment, alert staff when the required level of equipment is running low, and to ensure compliance with patient safety regulations. The use of smart automatic tracking systems in hospitals helps eliminate inefficiency, improve patient safety and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost and under-utilized equipment. It also prevents the need for caregivers to spend valuable patient care time looking for the equipment they need.

The new system will initially track more than 2000 pieces of equipment such as heart monitors, infusion pumps and ventilators across Saint Michael's using ultrasound receivers and tagging technology from Sonitor Technologies. Ultrasound tags can be attached to equipment to broadcast a unique identification signal to receivers without the risk of electromagnetic interference with other electronic patient care equipment. The ultrasound identification data is used by IBM's Real-Time Location Service software to not only track and visualize equipment with location accuracy to zone, room or sub-room levels, but to generate alerts and automate responses. For example, an alert can be generated when a heart monitor leaves an assigned area without authorization, or if a crash cart sits in the hallway too long.

Saint Michael's is also using the system to improve patient safety. Business rules can be created to automatically trigger events - such as requesting additional infusion pumps when the number of clean pumps in the closet drops to only two. With this solution, IBM is leveraging its asset management expertise to ensure a constant supply of equipment without the need for staff intervention or the need for nurses to pick up the phone and place equipment orders manually.

"Saint Michael's is always under cost pressures, looking for ways to improve efficiency and focus more on the patient", stated Angelo Schittone, vice president and chief information officer at Saint Michael's Medical Center. "We have highly skilled staff and caregivers. The new system allows our biomedical engineering team to better use their time managing and maintaining equipment and allows nurses to focus on patient care rather than looking for equipment."

The IBM solution provides Saint Michael's the flexibility to expand the system over time to cover additional rooms or even track patients and staff in important areas such as the emergency department, catheterization department and surgical department.

"The need to streamline complex systems, reduce costs and eliminate waste is at the foundation of smarter health care", stated Rob Merkel, health care industry leader, IBM Global Business Services. "Working with IBM, Saint Michael's is creating a new system that will help improve their processes, enhance patient care and boost efficiency."

IBM Business Partner Agilysys Inc. is providing IBM WebSphere Sensor Events software and IBM System x servers. IBM is creating a smarter, more connected health care system that delivers better care with fewer mistakes, predicts and prevents diseases, and empowers people to make better choices. This includes integrating data so doctors, patients and insurers can share information seamlessly and efficiently. IBM also helps clients apply advanced analytics to improve medical research, diagnosis and treatment in order to improve patient care and help reduce health care costs.

Sonitor Technologies is the innovator and world expert in ultrasound based Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS) for health care visualization and work flow applications. The company develops and manufactures an RTLS platform that provides proven zone, room and sub-room location accuracy for mobile equipment, patients and staff in complex health care environments such as hospitals and long-term care facilities. Sonitor's system integrates seamlessly with application software from all leading hospital information technology providers. More company news can be found in the VMW January 2007 article Sonitor ultrasound indoor positioning system and Awarix enterprise patient care visibility system bring accurate patient, equipment and employee tracking to Medical Center East.

Agilysys is a provider of innovative IT solutions to corporate and public-sector customers, with special expertise in select markets, including retail and hospitality. More IBM news can be found in the VMW Two compounds discovered that pave the way for new class of AIDS drug.

Source: IBM

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