Many hospitals have begun using RFID to track equipment; there is no doubt that improved technology means better patient care. The Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute in the Czech Republic has taken this philosophy one step further, earning it the honor of "Most Innovative Mobility Project" at Cisco Live! London last month. MMCI set out to improve the quality of medical care and cost management through the use of wireless technologies and related applications. The new network, based on Cisco® technologies, enables access to medical records from the patient's bedside via tablet PCs and the tracking of patients and medical equipment via location-based RFID services. The project was designed and implemented by Unis Computers, a Cisco Premier Certified Partner in the Czech Republic. MMCI received a European Union grant from the Integrated Operational Programme for Regional Development to support funding of this innovative and highly effective project.
Jiri Devát, general manager, Cisco Czech Republic said of the project, "Improving patient care is the most important task for hospitals and health care institutions, despite economic constraints. Connecting medical applications, systems and devices to the network speeds up decision-making, enables sharing of information, and increases the availability of services. The network is like the digital nervous system for the hospital, an environment that enables doctors to work efficiently."
Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute (MMCI) in Brno is over 75 years old and has treated close to 200,000 cancer patients. The institute belongs to the leading Comprehensive Cancer Centres in Czech Republic and enjoys an international reputation—in part because of its commitment to new technologies.
MMCI's new network is based on the Cisco Medical Grade Network architecture. The highly secure Cisco unified wireless network provides access to the hospital information system, the picture archiving and communication system, and electronic health records. Marek Svoboda, MD, PhD, deputy director for Development, Science and Training, Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute stated, "Doctors often need medical images or laboratory test results at the patient's bedside to verify how the patient's condition corresponds to those records. Immediate access to such information saves time for doctors and means better care for patients. Time spent on administrative tasks has been reduced by 15 percent."
The wireless network also helped enable MMCI introduce location-based services with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Patients receive tags with RFID chips and can call for help by pressing a button. Because of the RFID chip, nurses can instantly and effortlessly locate patients anywhere on the hospital campus. The patient RFID tag also enables identification in cases when a disoriented patient leaves the safe areas, for example, entering the basement or attempting to exit the institution without authorization.
High-value medical equipment is also fitted with RFID tags to simplify inventory processes, assist in finding necessary devices and protect against theft.
The value of RFID implementation alone in a medical environment is incalculable; after all, who can quantify the value of improved patient care? MMCI has taken it even further, creating a more intelligent hospital where communications and processes proceed with less effort and patients are inherently safer— the return on that investment is priceless.
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