Cisco will integrate its wireless location-aware network with GE's AgileTrac automated workflow platform to better manage the inventory of medical equipment and the flow of patients.
Cisco has joined with GE Healthcare to combine its Unified Wireless Network
and Context-Aware Software with GE's
AgileTrac platform to manage the flow of patients and medical assets.
The two companies announced the agreement at the HIMSS11 conference in Orlando,
Fla., on Feb. 21 and will demonstrate the
technology at the show, which runs Feb. 20-24.
Location-aware technologies are becoming essential in health care to keep
track of equipment and patients. More than 90 percent of large U.S.
hospitals implement WiFi networks along with RTLSs (real-time location systems)
to track the flow of medical assets such as pumps, beds, wheelchairs, X-ray
machines, patient tags, glucose monitors and laptops, according to GE and
Often these WiFi and RTLS location-tracking systems are separate, and a
challenge exists within health care to fill a gap of "siloed data"
between WiFi and RTLS. The platform from Cisco and GE combines these two
systems into one.
"Really for the first time, hospital won't have to make a choice;
they'll be able to do both," Dan Neuwirth, strategic
growth and development manager for GE Healthcare's Performance Solutions division, told eWEEK.
When clinics lose track of equipment, the additional purchases lead to
ballooning budgets, and health care companies are under public pressure to keep
costs down, Sylvia Hooks, Cisco's senior manager of mobility marketing, told
eWEEK. As a whole, hospitals have an average 15 percent equipment loss rate,
In fact, hospitals often report the need for more equipment but misplace
large amounts of current equipment inventory at the same time. "Research
suggests that hospitals have a lot more equipment than they need,"
Neuwirth said. Time spent looking for equipment adds significant time to a
nurse's shift, he added.
"It's not only an efficiency issue we're solving here, but a
quality-of-care issue," he said.
The Cisco Unified Wireless Network and 3300
Series Mobility Services Engine (MSE) allow medical practices to maintain a
central view of their workflow from anywhere in their facilities. The MSE
features an open API.
Cisco's MSE runs Context-Aware Software, which provides real-time resource
location information on equipment, patients and staff.
Meanwhile, GE's Web-based AgileTrac automated workflow application provides
a way for health care facilities to track mobile medical equipment, workflows
and patients. AgileTrac is part of GE's Healthymagination campaign, which aims
to provide improved health at a lower cost.
Bon Secours Richmond Health System,
the largest hospital system in Virginia,
is participating in a pilot project using the platform from Cisco and GE.
In the trial, Bon Secours has tracked more than 17,400 assets, including
PCs, IP phones and patients.
"With increasing financial pressures, the need for operational
excellence is a necessity. Bon Secours is already benefiting from real-time
data on the location and movement of mobile equipment and patients through the
GE AgileTrac RFID network to make smart decisions to improve care delivery and
hospital operations," Jeff Pearson, vice president of information services
for Bon Secours Richmond, said in a statement.
Hospitals such as Bon Secours are able to integrate their existing
WiFi-based assets into the Cisco GE platform.
"You don't have to tag anything because it's already going to be on
your WiFi network," Hooks said.
In other HIMSS news, GE reports that its Centricity Enterprise 6.9 EHR
(electronic health record) platform has received 2011/2012 certification by
Drummond Group, a certifier designated by the Office of the National
GE also announced two new versions of Centricity: Practice Solution 10 and
Patient Online 12. Practice Solution 10 adds embedded reports for health care
providers to track their progress on satisfying federal meaningful-use
guidelines on EHRs and to qualify for stimulus money. The product will be
available in the second quarter of 2011.
Available now, Patient Online 12 Web portal helps providers streamline their
workflow to include the patient's home. It also provides patients with
electronic copies of their health information, including lab results and
Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company, FOXNews.com, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents, ScientificAmerican.com, USA Weekend and Womansday.com, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.