London's Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has one of the widest ranges of children's health specialists in the United Kingdom, and patrons that include the British royal family. Many patients come to the hospital severely ill and in need of fast, comprehensive treatment.
To improve its goal of having "no wait, no waste and zero harm," the pediatric hospital reports, it implemented a real-time location system (RTLS) using Wi-Fi-based sensors from AeroScout to track the locations of such assets as pumps, beds, cots, mattresses and wheelchairs throughout its facility. The system was installed by British IT consultancy Block Solutions.
Mark Large, GOSH's IT director, says the system—which was installed in the summer of 2010—has not been in place long enough to measure the cost or time savings that it has yielded for the hospital. However, he notes, staff members are successfully employing it to locate assets, as well as testing the system's ability to issue alerts if an item is taken from the facility, or if an alarm button is pressed. GOSH treats 100,000 patients each year, with 353 beds on-site and a staff of 2,700.
The hospital contacted AeroScout in March 2010, seeking a system that would enable it to track its assets using its existing Cisco Wi-Fi system. Not only are the facility's patients typically in need of expedient treatment for serious health issues, the workers are highly trained—and, as such, highly paid. Spending their time searching for equipment required by a patient, the hospital reports, is both costly and time-consuming.
"That is the no-wait aspect [of the hospital's motto]," says Joel Cook, AeroScout's director of health-care solutions marketing. "They don't want their highly paid clinical staff looking for things while they should be caring for a sick child." Lost equipment, including incubators and other specialized pediatric devices, had also cost the hospital hundreds of thousands of pounds. Additionally, the hospital wanted a system that would integrate with preventative-maintenance management, in order to allow the tracking of maintenance and inspections, and print reports that would help management track equipment in need of servicing. "That's the zero-harm aspect," Cook explains. "When they have a sick child, they want to be absolutely sure the equipment has been properly maintained." AeroScout installed the system over the course of two months, updating the Wi-Fi infrastructure to ensure it had full facility coverage, applying AeroScout tags to assets, and installing its MobileView software platform on the hospital's server, in order to manage location data and send alerts by e-mail or text message, as necessary.
The hospital has tagged approximately 2,500 assets to date, most with AeroScout's T2 2.4 GHz tags (that provide location data only) and T3 tags (that are attached to mattresses and come with call buttons that can be pressed in the event of an emergency). In the case of T2 tags, which comply with the IEEE's Wi-Fi standards, a tag is attached to an asset and transmits its unique ID number to the nearest Wi-Fi nodes at preset intervals. The nodes then forward that ID to the back-end server, where MobileView software determines the tag's location based on the particular Wi-Fi access points that received the tag's signal. If a hospital employee needs to locate an item, he or she can simply open the MobileView software and select the item by type or specific ID number, thereby enabling that person to see an icon that locates the object on a map of the hospital.
In the case of T3 tags, if there is an emergency in the location of a the tagged mattress, a worker can simply press the tag's call button, causing an alert to be transmitted to the nearest Wi-Fi node and be routed by the MobileView software to specific parties, such as the nursing staff. GOSH's personnel can also utilize the MobileView solution to run reports on equipment and determine, for instance, when specific items are being cleaned and maintained, and where they tend to congregate—while awaiting cleaning, for example.
GOSH is currently testing the system's ability to issue alerts in the event that a piece of equipment enters an unauthorized area, such as an exit to the facility. In this case, Large says, the logistics of sending the alert to the proper staff members is still being worked out. "If you don't have enough security staff spare to run to that location, that particular role is of limited use," he explains. "However, using the tags for porter call to that location [calling for assistance, such as a wheelchair attendant, to a specific mattress], the Cisco wireless phones can be tracked and the nearest free porter can attend. We have trialed this, and may well put this into operation." With this system's installation, AeroScout now has more than 400 MobileView solutions in place in health-care facilities worldwide, says Steffan Haithcox, the company's senior marketing director.