Asklepios Barmbek Hospital in Hamburg (Germany) unwittingly recalls fantastic films: patients with RFID wristbands allowing them to control their whereabouts, doctors using tablet PCs to record symptoms, nurses who record patient health indicators using PDAs. The staff of the emergency department monitor the flow of patients and the availability of the wards in real time, and X-rays are digitally transferred to the electronic patient record.
All of these are tomorrow's healthcare technologies that exist today at the Asklepios Barmbek hospital. The new hospital was included in the network of 95 medical institutions of the private organization Asklepios Hospital Group operating in the USA and Germany.
The Intel Solution Services group (a division of Intel) acted as a consultant for the implementation of IT solutions. Together with Asklepios and the Digital Health Group, Intel Solution Services is currently implementing about 18 pilot projects and coordinating IT service providers to translate the concept of an electronic hospital for the Asklepios network into practice.
The service specialists developed an integrated IT infrastructure that provides a high level of standardization and considerable flexibility not only for the Barmbek hospital, but also for the entire network of hospitals and clinics of the Asklepios group. The final task was to make the work environment digital, reduce the amount of mistakes, increase the efficiency and productivity of work and make sure that doctors always have the right information to make the right decisions.
All units of the hospital are connected to each other by a network that provides doctors with secure access to patient data, both from the hospital and from other institutions. The hospital is also connected to an extensive medical network, including rehabilitation clinics, other hospitals and private specialists. The hospital has a wireless network deployed, combining 700 desktops and 150 mobile devices. Nurses can record information on patient e-cards directly in the ward using tablet PCs that have access to a wireless network. Instant data entry system allows you to avoid redundancy and possible errors when transferring information from paper to computer. A study by Intel showed that each nurse saves two hours per shift with this method — two hours that can now be given to patients, rather than paperwork.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is used in a hospital for a variety of purposes, here are some of them:
Track patient movements from one department to another for examinations and procedures. Thanks to RFID, hospital staff do not need to waste time searching for patients in the hospital complex. In addition, patients can now always be accurately identified;
Tracking the location of medical equipment, so that it can be used quickly, which is especially important in emergency situations;
The use of identifiers on blood bags and the automatic verification of identifiers with patient records ensures that the blood used in the operations will be compatible with the patient’s blood;
The use of identifiers in the neonatal unit reduces the chance of replacing or abducting children.
The medical portal of the hospital is a protected access point for authorized doctors who do not work in the hospital themselves, but whose patients need the services of this hospital. This solution allows doctors who do not work in the hospital to receive and provide information about patients, schedule appointments and consult with any other network specialists. Now doctors can always turn to the best specialists for advice, even if they are in another hospital.
The health care system is quite conservative: if we talk about the use of information technology, the majority of hospitals in the world are about 10 years behind other enterprises in terms of IT solutions penetration. As far as domestic hospitals are lagging behind in their equipment, even in comparison with "backward" western clinics, there is no need to say. It remains to hope that someday our doctors will be able to use the full potential of information technology.