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Thai hospital goes wireless to contain outbreaks

Dan Nystedt | April 22, 2009
By eliminating cables, digitizing documents and tagging patients the hospital leaves fewer places for bugs to hide.

Germs can hitchhike on hands, medical clipboards, paper, X-ray jackets and many other objects, as well as the people carrying or delivering them.

The hospital partnered with software maker Global Care Solutions to create an electronic medical health record system and digitize much of its other work, a project that grabbed Microsoft's attention.

Microsoft bought Global Care Solutions in 2007 and turned its products into the Amalga HIS system, which it markets in Asia and other places.

"It's made a significant difference," said Foo. "In any traditional hospital you see a lot of paper getting shifted around."

Electronic health records eliminated not only the paper and other objects germs can travel on, but also the need to have people deliver those objects throughout the hospital.

Another example of Bumrungrad's safety efforts is its work to control the spread of viruses on computers -- not digital viruses, but real ones.

Computer keyboards and mice have been major germ spreaders in recent years.

Since they're shared by so many people to access information, they can collect and pass on a host of organisms.

To solve the problem, Bumrungrad turned to rubber.

"Rubberized keyboards can be sterilized easily," said Pat Downing, a former officer at Global Care Solutions and now senior director of Amalga HIS products at Microsoft.

Alcohol wipes and regular baking can kill germ build up on rubberized keyboards, but would damage traditional keyboards.

Wireless technologies are also being used in the battle to stop germ spread, not just outbreaks.

Bumrungrad is well into a three year project to install computers in every patient room so doctors can access records on the spot.

Once in place, doctors will use RTLS-enabled identification cards to check in on the computer in any patient room. The network will know exactly where they are and who is in the room so it can send the digital chart, complete with the latest lab test results, to the doctor immediately.

The doctor won't have to touch a keyboard or mouse.

 

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