Sunday, January 31, 2010

OSU Medical Center marries Wi-Fi network, software to track medical equipment, some patients

 Ohio State University Medical Center covers 5 million square feet, so it's easy for a piece of equipment to go missing. An IV pump, for example, that had been placed outside a patient room is pushed down the hall into a corner and eventually rolled into a closet. "There are lots of places things can be and people were spending time looking for things without any clue of where they were," said Chad Neil, director of technology at the medical center.
"Then we were renting equipment, more than we need, because they couldn't find it."
That's why Ohio State is spending about $1 million on a software system and electronic tags that will use the university's Wi-Fi network to keep track of thousands of pieces of equipment as well as patients and staff members.
Tags the size of a matchbox will be attached to equipment and emit a signal picked up on the Wi-Fi network, said Tuomo Rutanen, spokesman for Ekahau, the international company that developed the technology.
The signal will show up on a floor-plan map and, through an algorithm using Wi-Fi routers, the object will be located within a few feet.
From a nurse's station, staffers can look up the equipment or tag number of a patient monitor or bed on a computer and find it quickly.
"If you know how to use Google, you can use this," Rutanen said.
Ohio State plans to put tags -- at $100 each -- on 10,000 to 15,000 pieces of equipment over the next two years.

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