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MultiCare Health's Good Samaritan Hospital to Install Smart Boards

The system will use RFID to identify any staff member who enters a patient's room, causing that individual's name, role and photo to appear on a video screen installed on the wall.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 08, 2011MultiCare Health System's Good Samaritan Hospital, located in Puyallup, Wash., has launched the first phase of an RFID installation that will enable the health-care facility to track its assets, employees, patients and workflow, as well as the temperatures of refrigerators and warmers, and also prompt the display information about the staff, for patients to view on video Smart Boards in their rooms.

The first phase—which includes the tracking of assets and the temperature management of coolers and warmers, using AeroScout battery-powered Wi-Fi-based tags and ultrasound-emitting tag exciters to improve location granularity—went live in February 2011 with the opening of the hospital's new nine-story, 357,000-square-foot tower. In April, the facility plans to move into the next phase by providing RFID- and ultrasound-enabled badges to patients and staff members, and by utilizing Amelior EDTracker software from Patient Care Technology Systems (PCTS) to pinpoint individuals' locations within the facility, and thereby predict the next necessary action and prompt that action to occur.


Good Samaritan Hospital's staff is using AeroScout's MobileView software to determine the locations of wheelchairs and other mobile assets.


To view a larger version of the above image, click here.

After completing the installation of Phase 2 later this spring, using PCTS software, and then testing the system in its emergency department, the hospital plans to expand to other departments as well, including surgery.

Good Samaritan Hospital is also developing its own software to send location data to Smart Boards—40-inch video screens installed in each patient room. A patient can use a Smart Board to watch television shows or hospital-related programming, such as educational health videos, as well as access the Internet and order meals, by touching the screen or utilizing a remote control. At the bottom of the screen, the patient will be able to see information regarding the scheduled goals and procedures for the day, including the names of the staff members who will treat that person. Once employees and patients begin wearing RFID badges, the AeroScout-PCTS system will be able to detect which worker has entered a patient's room, and cause the Smart Board to display that individual's first name and photograph, along with his or her role as a member of that patient's treatment team. The RFID-enabled Smart Board applications are scheduled to go live in the fall of this year.

The Smart Board is intended to provide a layer of comfort for patients who may be confused by the variety of staff members entering and exiting their rooms to provide various services. With the data provided on the monitor, a patient will immediately know who has arrived, and will be assured that each visitor is a member of the hospital team assigned to assist that individual.

The installation of the project's first phase was timed so that the asset- and temperature-tracking applications would become operational when the hospital's newly constructed patient tower opened in February. The rooms are now being filled with patients, beginning with the lower floors. The health-care facility used community funds gifted to it in order to pay for the RFID-based automation system that is intended to make the staff more efficient, and to provide patients with better care as a result.

The initial phase of the project is focused on asset tracking and temperature management, says Jeremy Prosch, MultiCare Health System's director of IS and project portfolio. The hospital management sought a system that would identify the locations of high-value, highly mobile assets, such as stretchers and infusion pumps, using the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure, but it also wanted room-level granularity, which is not always possible using Wi-Fi solutions. As a result, the facility chose to install two AeroScout ultrasound exciters at the entrance to each room of the new tower, in order to detect when a tag enters and leaves a particular room, thereby providing room-level granularity. Prosch reports that according to studies he has read, approximately 30 percent of a hospital's nursing staff's time is spent hunting for and gathering equipment—and the MultiCare facility, he says, is no different. Even with the RFID system, staff members will need to walk to the equipment's location and retrieve it, but the "hunting" portion of the process will be reduced, he notes, and will free up workers to spend more time caring for their patients.

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