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The Other Side of Health IT: Wireless Communication, Patient Trackers and Robots

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When technology leaders wax philosophic about health IT initiatives, they generally only mean one thing: electronic health records, which advocates from industry to the White House believe will revolutionize care.

But, while EHRs as well as how healthcare providers show they are meaningfully using them will likely continue to be the top health IT headline in the coming year, there are a number of other health IT initiatives that aim to harness the power of emerging technologies to improve care.

Tech firm CSC has an early head start indentifying these solutions. In a white paper for the California Healthcare Foundation, “Equipped for Efficiency,” CSC researchers Fran Turisco and Jared Rhoads focus on initiatives “beyond e-health records.”

The report calls for bolstering a number of areas, including increased efficiencies, patient safety and care, and communication and collaboration.

The report also calls attention to a number of specific methods and technologies, such as:

  • Workflow management systems
  • Real-time location systems to track equipment, patients and personnel
  • Wireless mobile VoIP communication

One of the report’s solutions even conjures up images from science fiction. Under the heading of providing assistance for delivering care, the report touts the ability of “delivery robots,” which can handle retrieve-and-deliver tasks.

Robots are already puttering through the halls of Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., the report states, using laser sensors and guided by a pre-loaded floor plan of the hospital.

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