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medical equipment tracking

As medical equipment grows smaller and moves closer to the patient, tracking thousands of items from wheelchairs to heart-lung machines can take valuable time away from patient care. A portable telemetry device used to record electrical activity of the heart can easily get lost in bed sheets and sent to the laundry, costing thousands of dollars to replace. Now hospitals are using ultrasound technology to automatically manage, maintain and deliver medical equipment.

Case in point: Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey is using IBM’s real-time location services to keep track of more than 2,000 pieces of medical equipment (think heart monitors, infusion pumps, ventilators) at a moment’s notice.

How: Ultrasound tags can be attached to equipment to broadcast a unique identification signal to receivers without the risk of electromagnetic interference with other electronic patient care equipment. The ultrasound data helps track and visualize equipment with location accuracy to zone, room or sub-room levels. Alerts can even be generated when a heart monitor leaves an assigned area without authorization, or if a crash cart sits in the hallway too long.

IBM’s Holli Haswell talks with Cathy Cocco, one of IBM’s smarter healthcare experts in our hospital lab in Austin:

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