Location-Aware Solutions Improve Clinical Productivity, Patient Safety, and Information Security

How frequently does your organization lose track of medical devices in your hospital?  How many precious seconds and minutes are lost tracking down the closest infusion pump, ventilator or wheelchair?  For many healthcare organizations, these are everyday (re: multiple times per day) occurrences. An even greater concern is losing track of a patient, which happens more frequently than the average citizen might expect.

Real-time location system (RTLS) solutions are used in healthcare to help address these challenges. Placing an RFID tag on a medical device or providing patients with wristbands that have these tags embedded can make it much easier for employees to track down devices, equipment and patients, but we have barely scratched the surface of the positive impact location, or premises-aware capabilities can have on healthcare organizations and clinical workflows.

mHealth is taking the world by storm, and hospitals are no exception. Many health systems are empowering their clinicians with tablets to enable more efficient access to health information and better collaboration with the patient at the point of care. What if the patient chart itself was premises-aware?  When the clinician walked up to their patient, the chart could be auto-populated with the patient’s health record. A clinician on rounds could examine the chart to ensure their next patient is in their room as expected.  As team-based care proliferates, clinicians can track down other team members more easily. Devices or storage drives that are improperly removed from the hospital can be automatically disabled, preventing an expensive security breach.

Some of these use cases are enabled (or improved) through the integration of premises-aware capabilities into computing devices such as tablets, laptops, PC’s and even servers and storage drives. Intel is working with the Intermountain Healthcare Transformation Lab to investigate the utility of these use cases, with some key findings described in this whitepaper and we are building these capabilities into client devices to bring solutions to the healthcare industry with the help of our strategic partners.

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Have any of you had successes or challenges integrating location aware solutions into your organization?  Please share your thoughts below.

Chris Gough is a lead solutions architect in the Intel Health & Life Sciences Group and a frequent blog contributor.

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