Most Effective Use of Communications Technologies

Winner: John Radcliffe Hospital

Project: Wireless Blood Tracking

Business goal: To streamline the processes involved in the collection and tracking of blood samples and products within hospital facilities through the use of advanced wireless technologies

Project partner: BT

The quick, secure transportation of blood products is one activity that can truly be called a matter of life or death. At John Radcliffe Hospital (JRH), part of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital Trusts, one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK, it was recognised that enhancing the tracking of blood products through the use of wireless technology could fulfil the regulatory requirements, but more importantly, improve patient care and reduce operational costs.

Along with partner BT, JRH implemented an end-to-end blood tracking system from Olympus Osyris called BloodTrack. It uses two-dimensional barcodes to match patients with blood products, and ensures that the blood is carefully tracked whenever it is moved around hospital facilities.

As the awards’ judges noted, the impact of combining conventional 2D bar code technology with the wireless technology had helped “solve critical problems”.

By equipping staff with handheld computers patients can be matched to blood products using the barcodes. The handhelds also prompt staff through the key steps of the transfusion process, ensuring that the correct protocol is followed and the right blood products are administered.

JRH has also installed a highly-secure campus-wide wireless local area network which can be accessed by the handheld computers, ensuring that the blood product data is tracked as it moves through the hospital.

The results have been impressive: the transfusion process has been simplified, from 26 separate steps to 17, reducing the likelihood of errors and increasing efficiency; the time to complete end-to-end transactions has been reduced from 130 minutes to just 80; the cost of the process has been reduced from £34 per transfusion to £17.

Ultimately, with the additional time saved, JRH expects the £1.5 million system will have paid for itself within five years.

Judges praised the project for its conceptual simplicity, that was “incredibly effective in delivering process improvements”. Another noted the “serious benefits” which have accrued from using a range of co-ordinated technology: it was a clear demonstration of IT “at its best”, he concluded.

Highly Commended

Dundee City Council

The introduction of ‘web ‘n’ walk’ laptop cards has enabled Dundee City Council’s highly mobile staff across departments – from social workers to benefits staff – to access critical applications while on the move. The use of thin-client technology ensured a rapid, secure roll-out that delivered improved productivity within three months.

Nottingham NHS Health Informatics Service

Nottingham NHS Health Informatics Service has equipped its community-based therapists and clinicians with HSDPA-enabled laptops, which connect through a virtual private network. The scheme has reduced the time wasted by returning to the office, and improved patient care by ensuring staff have up-to-the-minute patient information during consultations.

Back to The Effective IT 2007 Awards Winners Report contents

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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