Barcodes and Mobile Devices Save Lives

hospital barcodeMany companies are turning to barcode technology and mobile devices to improve operational workflow and efficiency. When it comes to the healthcare industry there is a clear benefit: better patient safety.

At this year's HIMSS Conference and Exhibition, an event focused on global leadership for the optimal use of information technology (IT) and management systems for the betterment of healthcare, Avaya, Inc. demonstrated new and enhanced communications solutions to help healthcare providers improve workplace collaboration and patient care. The solutions use mobility, automated outreach and barcode technologies to enhance care coordination, pre-admissions preparedness, and post-discharge care.

"Healthcare professionals need to be instantly reachable and quick to respond in order to deliver the most effective care," said Sanjeev Gupta, general manager of Avaya's Healthcare Solutions group. "Avaya's solutions help speed up hospital clinical processes, and remove the barriers that can frustrate healthcare professionals. The tools we are showcasing today streamline communications in an industry where every second counts."

Innovative technologies will continue to play a central role in healthcare in 2011. Gartner estimates that "in 2011 healthcare providers worldwide will spend $87.7 billion on IT, including hardware, software, IT services, and telecommunications."(1)

The new offerings demonstrated at the HIMSS Conference and Exhibition include:

  • Avaya Mobile Device Checkout 3.0: This frees hospital staff from the nurse's station by enabling communications from anywhere on hospital grounds using a personalized Wireless LAN mobile device. With this solution, a hospital worker registers a shared or personal mobile device at the start of a shift by swiping the barcode on their device and ID badge. This assigns a personal phone number to the device, eliminating complex login procedures or the need for staff to get a new contact number at work. The solution also allows simultaneous log in to applications, such as asset management. With this solution, Avaya addresses the issues of healthcare staff availability and collaboration. According to a recent Spyglass Consulting Group report, 69 percent of hospital-based physicians and 87 percent of private practice physicians indicate their biggest communications challenge is connecting with colleagues in a timely manner. Today's update builds on a prior release by expanding support beyond hospital WLAN devices to now integrate with other smart phones and wireless tablets, including iPhones, BlackBerrys and iPads. Enhanced reporting also provides expanded device management capabilities within the hospital. General availability is March 2011.

  • Avaya Patient Follow-up: Avaya Patient Follow-up enables hospitals to use these technologies to call and follow up with patients after their discharge from a hospital. It uses voice automation to ask customized questions based on a patient's medical records and their reason for hospitalization. Designed to reduce the number of patients re-admitted, this solution also reduces dependency on using staff for repetitive follow-up. It can be tailored to acute conditions, and helps in chronic disease management by ensuring patients follow proper care at home. It will be available Summer 2011.

Mobile Devices Improve Patient Safety

Halton Healthcare is one facility that deployed Avaya Mobile Device Checkout to address the communications challenges facing their emergency department. Previously, contacting a physician or nurse was often a cumbersome task; in many cases staff were forced to rely upon a hospital-wide overhead paging system. Avaya's solutions enable Halton Healthcare's staff to connect instantly and directly via mobile devices. Not only does this reduce the excess noise of overhead paging, but it reduces the amount of time necessary to reach staff- no small improvement in an environment where seconds save lives.

"Avaya Mobile Device Checkout is the best solution the department has implemented in 20 years," said Dr. Richard Casey of Halton Healthcare. "Our professionals are getting connected in real-time, which is a great advancement in our communications, as well as patient flow and safety."

Rochester General Hospital also uses Avaya Mobile Device Checkout as the backbone of its emergency department communications. The hospital's employees -- including physicians, transporters, radiologists and nurses -- no longer have to wait to use wall phones to reach colleagues in emergencies. They now have an assigned mobile device they check out by simply scanning their ID. Approximately 50 mobile devices are in use by employees, each reachable by a role-based extension number.

"We now communicate quickly and on the fly," said George Glessner, process coordinator, emergency department, Rochester General Hospital. "Steps are eliminated for most everything, whether obtaining lab results or transporting patients to radiology. With Avaya Mobile Device Checkout, staff is now reachable from anywhere in and just outside the hospital, including the emergency department parking lot and helipad, thus enabling us to easily make arrangements for patients in critical condition as they arrive."

While the impact of barcodes and mobile devices in the healthcare industry is profoundly clear, their relevance across other industries is also proven. Any company in today's market would benefit from analyzing current procedures for ways in which mobile and barcode technologies could replace antiquated systems.

(1) Gartner, Market Insight: Healthcare Provider Industry Primer, 2010. Nov. 18, 2010

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