Technical.ly Philly

Jun. 2, 2009 8:30 am

Albert Einstein uses real-time tracking system to save lives, cash

If the guy who said “what gets measured gets managed” stepped foot into Albert Einstein Medical Center he would have been a happy man. The Logan-based hospital has been using a Real-Time Location System (RTLS) that monitors and measures the location of doctors, medical devices and patients since last September, according to RIFD Journal, but […]

If the guy who said “what gets measured gets managed” stepped foot into Albert Einstein Medical Center he would have been a happy man.

The Logan-based hospital has been using a Real-Time Location System (RTLS) that monitors and measures the location of doctors, medical devices and patients since last September, according to RIFD Journal, but the North Broad Street fixture has just released their first round of related metrics.

What Twitter is to your friends’ eating habits, the RTLS is to medicine.

Each patient who comes through the hospital is given one of the 350 special ID cards that gets synced with the patient’s medical file. The devices act as a GPS of sorts, relaying the location of the wearer to receivers throughout the hospital which transmit the data over a local area network to a computer running special software. Hospital employees can pull up the building’s floor plan and see in real-time where patients and co-workers are and how long they have been there.

Doctors no longer have to go searching for equipment (and each other), while the time patients spend waiting around to be treated is being cut down.

The tracking system is more than just a damn-cool way to make the medical center run more smoothly, it also helps the bottom line.

Medical personnel can not only track the location of a patient, they can also track how long that person has been in their current location, allowing all kinds of metrics in efficiency to be taken and analyzed. In less than nine months, Albert Einstein has seen a 24 percent increase in patients in the emergency department and a $4.5 million increase in revenue. The figure of patients who leave the ER prematurely and end up coming back for more treatment is down from five percent to between one and two.

Doctors also receive monthly reports that evaluate their performance on statistics such as patients treated, how often each patient was visited and time spent with each patient.

Soon, the hospital hopes to combine the tracking system with electronic medical records to make all of the hospital’s data available from a single source. Once that projects is finished, the system will be able to combine location data points with statistics typically found in a patient’s chart.

If all of that data in one place makes you skeptical, you have good reason. Earlier this month, a hacker broke into a� similar database in a Virginia medical center and demanded $10 million in ransom.

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Sean Blanda is an adviser to Technical.ly, the local technology news network, having cofounded its flagship Technically Philly in February 2009. He is a media consultant, engagement editor for Behance and lives in Brooklyn, NYC.

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