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Cisco and GE Healthcare Teaming Up To Help Hospitals Wirelessly Track Assets and Improve Patient Care

Even if you’ve never worked in a hospital, or for that matter, have never seen an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “E.R.,” “General Hospital,” or even “Doogie Howser,” you can imagine the problem: an emergency has come up, but you can’t find a bed, an equipment cart, or other critical mobile medical supplies¸ and on top of that, an elderly patient has just wandered off. You’re frustrated that you can’t find the equipment you need, and you spend up to an hour a day trying to reach someone on your staff.

If you’re a hospital IT administrator, you’re already trying to squeeze every dollar out of your budget, trying to maximize your existing assets, yet you’re faced with these problems on a daily basis.

When hospitals aren’t able to locate equipment, they are forced to over-provision and hold replacement devices as reserves, causing high annual spending and leaving many devices underutilized. On average, hospitals over-procure 20-30% of their mobile assets and lose up to 15% of critical equipment each year1, with 85% of nurses spending 60 minutes per shift just searching for supplies and infusion pumps2 . A hospital’s quality of care and patient satisfaction scores have a direct correlation with their ability to easily locate patients, staff and equipment.

But Cisco can help.

Cisco is teaming up with GE Healthcare to address the issues healthcare organizations are facing by enabling them to better manage the flow of patients, staff, and equipment. Through this GE-Cisco collaboration, hospitals will now be able to deploy GE’s AgileTrac platform integrated with the Cisco Unified Wireless Network, to support cost-effective location tracking of assets and people across diverse network technologies.

Since Wi-Fi is already deployed in 90% of large US facilities, hospitals can now maximize their return on existing wireless investments by utilizing the technology they already have to improve visibility into hospital asset use and patient care, while reducing cost of ownership.

So how does this work? The Cisco solution – comprised of the Cisco Unified Wireless Network, Cisco 3300 Series Mobility Services Engine, and Context Aware Software – extracts intelligence from the network about Wi-Fi-enabled wireless and medical devices, as well as Wi-Fi tagged assets and patients, which is then consumed by the GE AgileTrac software. AgileTrac converges proprietary real-time location services (RTLS) information with Cisco Wi-Fi information, providing hospital administrators with greatly improved visibility of their assets and allowing more efficient healthcare services, increased staff productivity and an improved standard of patient care.  For IT administrators, the combined solution provides a single source to track assets and workflow, managed through one interface and reducing the need for an overlay RTLS tracking network.

Cisco and GE Healthcare are enabling organizations to make better-informed decisions about critical hospital processes, with a single system that provides end-to-end information and integrates multiple location technologies. This collaboration allows hospitals to leverage their Wi-Fi infrastructure for location tracking, achieving a high return on investment, while giving them the choice to deploy proprietary RTLS technologies suited to their individual applications.

If you’ll be at the HIMSS Conference in Orlando this week, be sure to visit the Cisco booth for a firsthand demonstration of this new collaboration with GE Healthcare. We’ll also be showing the latest Cisco solutions for telehealth, video collaboration, mobility and tablet PC technology, as well as clinical workflow solutions that facilitate reliable, highly secure and accessible health care.

1 ABI Research, “The Current State of Global Healthcare Wi-Fi Market Size, Segmentation, and Forecasts”, Q3 2009

2 Cisco 2009 National Survey of Hospital Nurses conducted by Zogby International, September 2009

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