Technology within healthcare is evolving by the day with solutions aiming to surpass benchmarks and enhancing the experience of stakeholders with options that allow them to discover innovations and applications is becoming a new way to drive purchasing decisions for healthcare management professionals.
Omnia Health embarked on a ‘virtual tour solution’ to explore Zebra Technologies’ latest addition in its experience centre — a dedicated suite that gives customers and partners an intimate look into the newest hardware and software disrupting healthcare.
ENHANCED TRACKING VISIBILITY
First up from their line of software solutions is Zebra Motion-Works. Using RFID technology, the software can track assets such as people, equipment, and other components in environments such as hospitals or manufacturing plants. Assets can also track live using battery-powered RFID tags that constantly send out signals. So, in a hospital environment, that means anyone or anything — from a high-risk patient with an RFID wristband to beds or equipment — can be tracked. This gives hospitals live visibility on inventory.
“Smartphone apps use tracking; however, this is limited to the extent of discovering a person’s location. Motion Works is a superior software that provides context all the way down to historical data, and tracks the routes a patient takes as well as the areas they gather in. Presently we are working very closely with hospitals to understand which areas within the hospital infections are most rampantly transmitted in, and how can we manage and reduce those in the future,” says Wayne Miller, Director, EMEA Healthcare Practice, Zebra Technologies.
RAISING MANUFACTURING STANDARDS
Machine Vision is one of Zebra Technologies’ solutions in its manufacturing verticals, where AI-trained cameras can identify missing components during manufacturing and reject a product from the conveyor belt for an individual to either repair it or completely remove it from the order. The camera can also be programmed to check food groups in a hospital to recognise excess waste and adjust it accordingly.
“In pharmaceutical manufacturing, blister packs could pass under the camera and help us spot a drug in every single part of that blister pack or dose. If the camera and software are set-up correctly, it can also distinguish between different types of drugs,” explained Miller. Adding to efficiency, machine learning and RFID are used to check the pack to ensure everything is present. If not, it creates an error for an individual to resolve. “Several hospitals experienced a backlog in elective surgery with the average hospital cycle surgical trays being used about once a week. Considering an average 1,000-bed hospital requires 10,000 trays, which is a very tall order, Machine Vision is a perfect solution for that,” he added.
Thomas Duparque, Healthcare Business Development Manager — EMEA, said that Zebra is currently working on an application in France to have meals appropriately administered in the hospital room.
“You can scan the barcode of the meal for the patient and add it to their daily chart. This solution can be used in several ways, for example, to ensure that the quantity of food consumed by the patient is correct, and to prepare a detailed report on the patient’s eating habits after scanning meals before and after,” said Duparque.
Miller added: “Machine vision has been around for several years, and software is becoming more intelligent. I believe we are going to see more and more applications taken up by hospitals.”
HARMONY IN AUTOMATION
The tour took an interesting turn with robotics in the frame, as Miller explained their important role in a hospital environment. “Generally-speaking, hospitals are large facilities and almost operate like a city. They manufacture and distribute drugs; they are part-hotel, part restaurant. Soon, we predict moving inventory around the hospital becoming fully automated. The robots we have in the experience centre can be configured in different ways to pick up and move inventory. They are a perfect fit in a pharmacy, loading a tray, setting out in the ward to dispense the medication to a patient upon scanning their RFID wristband,” he said.
RISE OF CONNECTED HOSPITALS
Eighty-nine per cent of executive decision-makers and 83 per cent of clinicians surveyed in The ‘Smarter, More Connected Hospitals global report, agree real-time intelligence is essential for optimal patient care, and hospitals are increasingly investing in clinical mobility tools, real-time location systems (RTLS) and intelligent workflow solutions to support smarter, more connected workflows. However, more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of hospital executives still do not feel that their organisations are investing enough to maximise staff efficiency, and more must be done moving forward.
This is where Workforce Connect steps in. This is a software application that connects the workforce securely, enabling colleagues to send each other messages, create and assign tasks, send alerts and make emergency calls. If the device with the application is dropped, it will notify those in the vicinity through an alert for support.
“As we see more smart devices deployed, there will be solutions that look at the maintenance of those smart devices,” Miller concluded.