Southern Health has also embraced location-based technology recently deploying a real-time location system (RTLS) in both its emergency and mental health departments which lets staff track assets, people and resources, pinpointing where they are, how long they’ve been there and where and when they went.
“Knowledge is power and being able to follow that sort of information gives us the ability to be more efficient,” Ferguson says of the system. “The more efficient you are the greater your patient throughput and you can treat patients quicker.
“It’s a very exciting system for us — one that I think a lot of hospitals have fantasised about — but to actually deploy a robust enterprise solution is a great leap forward for us.”
At St Vincent’s and Mater Hospitals, Roffe too has been working with location and identification technology, installing radio frequency identification tags (RFID) on crucial biomedical devices in order to locate them at any time, to prevent them disappearing into theatre with patients and being untraceable. The hospital has also started to implement wireless vital signs monitors, which will feed blood pressure and pulse rate data up to its clinical system.
Looking to the future, Roffe says that as the price of tablet PCs comes done its likely that ‘patient entertainment devices’ will also proliferate inside hospital wards. Taking a leaf from the airline industry, these devices will offer free-to-air TV, on-demand content, a telephone, movies and games. In addition the devices will enable patients to call for nursing aid directly through the device as well as double up as platform for running medical applications.
“The big advantage is that when a doctor comes into the room some units allow the doctor to access clinical application on the screen,” he says. “They can see x-rays and explain to the patient at the time what the image shows. They can review pathology results or ask the patient to view educational material ... all great things.”