For years automatic identification systems have been widely used across many market sectors. Modern logistics relies heavily on quick and precise item identification, which helps optimize process efficiency. Such proven solutions are also being gradually implemented in other areas, for example in our hospitals. Can healthcare providers successfully grasp good practices developed in other industry sectors? Will advanced IT solutions help them offer better services and improve their internal processes?
Automatic identification systems (AutoID) have been developed to ensure efficient and precise goods movement and logistic units management in manufacturing processes, transporting, forwarding, logistics and warehousing. Thanks to these solutions warehouse or logistic processes operators can always check the exact storage location of any product, which is easily identified by such features as, e.g. batch or serial number. This, in turn, helps avoid shipping errors.
Such systems are obviously not the same for all companies. The basic concept, however, remains the same: at the heart of the system there is the managing software. Other elements include auto-identification devices (PDAs, barcode readers, RFID technology), product labelling devices (barcode printers) and a communication environment which integrates all those elements into one functional system.
Main benefits of this solution include process automation and error minimization, which lead to increased efficiency and reduction of operational costs. The system also allows full, real-time control and tracking of specific product batches inside and outside of the company. This data has profound meaning for planning work of individual departments.
Information flow in the hospital
The goal behind implementing IT solutions in any company is to achieve optimal and precise data access. Reliable data transfer is even more crucial for healthcare providers than anyone else, because of the high stakes which include human health and life.
The benefits of automatic identification systems have been recognized by the governments which require hospitals to identify patients during the registration process. Hospital patient has to be assigned an identification mark with information necessary to unambiguously determine his/her name and date of birth. The mark must be encoded to prevent unauthorized access.
These guidelines exactly match the experience of companies specializing in AutoID technology. They have already developed a solution which involves assigning a unique code to every patient, from infants in the maternity ward to adults in any other ward, who function as a number in the system – just as any other logistic unit in a warehouse.
Patient identification system
The first step in the patient identification process is marking. Every patient admitted to hospital is given a hand band with their data encoded in a barcode, which is used to protect their personal data. Having an antibacterial coating, these bands meet all standards for cleanliness and sterility. The ID code contains comprehensive data concerning the patient and treatment applied.
The IT system helps organize the work of physicians and other medical personnel on the ward. The physician responsible for treatment is equipped with a portable device (data terminal), which has constant, wireless connection with the system. In order to give instructions to the personnel the physician types commands on the mobile terminal; this data is then transferred to the system, which sends these instructions to individual staff members.
That way the physician saves time, since he no longer needs to complete paper forms or meet staff members in person to assign specific tasks. No paper-based documentation contributes to increased safety, eliminating the risk of documents being destroyed, lost or illegible. The system keeps record of all issued instructions, which gives full control over who, when and to whom assigned tasks.
The patient identification system works on all portable devices such as PDAs and tablets. Although a barcode scanner is required for proper operation, codes can also be typed manually. Data exchange between portable terminals is carried out via wireless network. In case WiFi cannot be used in a given medical facility, data can be exchanged through a GSM/UMTS network. This also applies to procedure and operating rooms, which by definition cannot remain within the range of any microwave network. In areas such as these the system can operate in connectionless mode and use data stored only on the portable device. When network range is restored, the device will automatically synchronize any data that has been changed either on the server or on the terminal.
Patient data is encoded in the barcode, which helps protect it against unauthorized retrieval. All personal data is stored in a database which is protected against external access as well as unauthorized access from the hospital network. Portable devices used by physicians also contain data which is protected by passwords revealed only to predefined users.
Benefits for the hospital
The rationale for introducing patient identification system is the need to increase the quality of medical services in hospitals and to eliminate errors related to administering wrong drugs or incorrect doses. The issue of proper patient identification is critical for their safety, since it can reduce the risk of error. By eliminating paper documentation and optimizing registration and diagnostic processes such IT system can help resolve this problem.
The AutoID system can also help boost hospital efficiency through automation, which increases process speed. Reduced bureaucracy simplifies administrative procedures, which leads to increased savings. By eliminating diagnosis- and treatment-related errors the number of potential negligence compensation claims resulting from improper treatment is decreased.
- requirement to implement the system imposed by legislator
- increased service quality in the healthcare sector
Elimination of errors related to incorrect drug administration or dosage
- no documents or paper-based patient medical reports
- easy access to precise information
- automation of registration process and patient identification
- use of portable devices
- local access to information within the hospital
Access to data in critical rooms
- terminals meet hospital standards and do not affect operation of other devices
- application working both online and offline
Ease of use
- intuitive user interface
- large onscreen buttons and text enhance reading ease
Quick return on investment
- reduction of administrative expenses on consumables, e.g. paper, binders, etc.
- no hidden or extra costs related to system service
- clear licensing system