Cisco, GE Collaborate on Tracking Technology for Health Care
The cost of getting – and staying – healthy can be expensive. Just ask anyone who’s spent an afternoon in the emergency room, where one gauze pad can cost $5. But while hospitals are good at tracking inventory to ensure patients have what they need (and are charged appropriately), they aren’t as good at tracking other assets such as morphine dispensers, mobile x-ray units and, in some cases, even patients.
To be fair, it’s not always the hospital’s fault. Their myriad wireless asset tracking systems often run on different networks – wi-fi for patient tracking, GPS-style tracking for equipment and RFID for inventory management – and it’s not always easy or convenient to monitor where everything or everyone is going.
That’s the problem Cisco Systems and GE Healthcare hope to solve. The two companies have announced a collaboration that enables facilities to deploy GE’s AgileTrac platform integrated with Cisco’s Unified Wireless Network and Context-Aware Software to track any tagged asset, regardless of the network it uses.
“This is the integration of two solutions to help hospitals reduce costs and increase care by making better decisions,” said Sylvia Hooks, senior manager of mobility marketing at Cisco. “We’re taking the wi-fi network from Cisco and the 3300 series Mobility Services Engine with contact center software to feed into GE AgileTrac to monitor the widest array of tracking technologies available.”
In a nutshell, Cisco’s technologies now work with GE Healthcare’s AgileTrac, an automated workflow solution that allows healthcare staff to track people, processes and mobile medical assets. While neither company is selling the technology as a bundled solution, channel partners working in the healthcare space now can sell the two technologies in tandem to provide a more robust – and more useful – tracking system. (After all, it’s no fun when the hospital loses Uncle Louie.)
“Most medical facilities have to over-procure their mobile medical devices by up to 50 percent because those devices tend to get lost,” Hooks said. “This is an easy place where technology can help,” especially by enabling facilities to reduce their procurement costs, which – at least in a just world – should equate into lower healthcare costs.
The integration capability will be available in the next release of the Unified Wireless Network and Mobility Services Engine, which is planned for April. It’s a free upgrade for existing customers, Hooks said.
And because the healthcare community isn’t the only vertical that could benefit from such technology, Cisco is currently in discussions with other vendors to expand the functionality. “We’re now working with a host of partners to offer solutions,” she said.