Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cisco’s cost-saving system for hospitals

Business Times: US-BASED Cisco Systems Inc, wants to offer Malaysian hospitals a system that will help them save costs and better attend to patients’ needs.
This would be done by providing nurses with mobile phones and have chips embedded in medical equipments to better track them, among others.
“I am confident that the there will be cost savings (for the users),” Vincent Lim, Healthcare Practice Leader, Cisco Asia Pacific said, when asked if savings are guarantees for hospitals which would use the system.
Cisco, which is more known for making routers or equipments that direct traffic on the Internet, yesterday launched the system, dubbed the New Clinical Connectivity Solutions.
According to Lim, a typical 400-bed healthcare facility will be able to save between US$400,000 (RM1.46 million) and US$500,000 (RM1.82 million) annually by reducing short-term equipment losses, fewer purchases and labour savings.
Malaysian hospitals can expect a similar amount of savings but in terms of ringgit. He was speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
As for the cost of installing and implementing the system, he said, “The solution can cost between a few hundred dollars up to a couple of million dollars depending on what the hospital wants.”
Under the system, a Cisco 7920 IP (internet protocol) phone would be provided to a nurse for example. This will alert the nurse when a patient needs her, even when she is roaming and not at her station.
At the same time, the nurse can cut the number of trips made to the patient’s bedside to find out what the patient wants by immediately responding via direct communications with the patient.
The phone works like any other mobile phone making it easier for nurses to use it.
Another component of the system is the location-based services.
Nurses and clinicians spend valuable time searching for equipment and other hospital resources.
Cisco’s real-time system will use the Radio Frequency Indentification Systems (RFID) tracking technology.
These are essentially tiny chips embedded in equipments to allow tracking. This would also prevent theft.
“We have no competition here. We are the only one in the market,” Lim said, adding that other players in the market offer these products individually such as those providing the network or switches.
The system, which was introduced in October 2005, has already taken-off in 10 hospitals globally. Cisco is also working with another 30 to 40 hospitals around the world at various stages of implementation.
In Malaysia, Cisco hopes to rope in new Government hospitals and new private hospitals, as it would be easier to implement the system afresh.

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