Hospital Improves Patient Care with Wireless Solution
October 17, 2008
Proctor Hospital, located in Peoria, Illinois, operates with the mission of improving the quality of life of its patients and the community by providing quality healthcare services. Proctor Hospital is located on the growing north part of town, and its administration believes that it has a real niche in the community.
"We provide an environment that is not overwhelming and that is easy to get around in," says Jenny Clyatt, administrative director of health informatics and technology for Proctor Hospital. "We are an organization that is high tech, but also high touch. We want to be the hospital of desire for our customers."
For the last couple of years, Proctor has focused intently on an EMR (electronic medical record) initiative, with the goal of improving patient care and safety as well as the overall patient experience at its facility. In order to achieve success with its EMR initiative, Proctor needed a more powerful wireless infrastructure, as well as a security solution to protect the network and patient information and help to monitor threats.
"A wireless solution was necessary to give us flexibility in choosing a variety of devices for clinical and other staff to use," says Clyatt. "We also wanted our staff to be able to obtain patient information quickly, regardless of their location. We could not be locked into a hardwired infrastructure."
For help in designing and deploying a secure wireless solution, Proctor turned to Burwood Group, Inc, a Cisco® Gold Certified Partner technology consulting firm that specializes in IT management and infrastructure solutions. Incorporated in 1997, Burwood Group has headquarters in Chicago, and has expanded to several locations in the Midwest. Burwood Group and Proctor have worked together for over five years. Given Burwood Group's strong healthcare presence and experience, Clyatt and Proctor's IT group confidently outsource expertise to the firm, as well as depend on it to keep them informed of technology developments that would benefit the hospital.
"We did a multi-year plan with Proctor years ago, and we review that plan with them a couple of times a year," says J.T. Bedell, director of client solutions for Burwood Group. "Because of the focus Burwood has on healthcare we are able keep them informed of what trends we are seeing that may benefit Jenny and her team. This helps them benchmark what they are doing in comparison to others in the industry." The two organizations had talked about the wireless deployment for several months, because Proctor's CEO was very committed to EMR and to a secure wireless solution.
Burwood Group has a plan/design/implement approach to its projects, and it started the Proctor project with a complete floor-by-floor site survey of the hospital. The hospital consists of an older core building along with areas of newer construction.
"Wireless signals would react differently in different areas of the hospital due to the diverse construction materials," says Bedell. "We also spent a lot of time interviewing end-users at Proctor to fully understand what kind of devices would be used on the network, so that our solution would meet everyone's expectations." It was also important that Burwood Group's solution could eventually be supported entirely in-house by the hospital's IT staff.
After the research was completed, Burwood Group put together its recommendation. It started with upgrading the existing wireless network, to a controller based architecture, which they accomplished with Cisco Catalyst® 6509 Core Switches. Over 160 Cisco 1131 Lightweight Access Points would be deployed, as well as a Cisco Wireless Control System to centrally manage all of the components. The wireless network would be secured through a Cisco Secure Access Control Server. The solution also delivers public Internet access to hospital patients and visitors, a customer service that was important to Proctor.
Careful planning of the deployment to minimize disruption was critical, because so much of the hospital data is critical to patient health.
"I have learned that the failure rate of big IT projects is usually due to lack or organization or lack of good project management methodologies," says Clyatt. "Burwood provided excellent project management expertise so that the deployment was as organized and as effective as possible. Good communications is essential; Burwood Group took the time to communicate with our staff. So while our physicians and other staff knew there would be inconveniences such as people running cables and ladders in the hallways, they knew the vision and what the outcome would be, so they were excited."
"While other healthcare facilities may have rolled out bedside documentation a couple of years ago, we have had the ability to do a lot of research," says Clyatt. "For instance, Burwood arranged for us to speak with many other facilities about their successes and failures. We have hosted vendor fairs, assessed different equipment, and have been able to significantly involve our frontline staff in what the solution needs to deliver. We can be confident that we are spending our capital dollars on a proven solution while having the luxury of making sure the systems and hardware work best with our staff's process and workflow."
For instance, although many hospitals chose to use wireless mobile carts for staff to roll where they need them, Proctor decided to outfit each patient room with a cabinet that houses a thin client solution for accessing patient information, as well medications locked in a secure area, a separate locked area for respiratory medications, miscellaneous supplies, and a non-tethered scanner that is used on bar-coded medication to help ensure that medication is administered safely.
The Cisco wireless solution designed and deployed by Burwood Group has allowed Proctor to improve patient safety, because it has fulfilled the initiative to get information to the appropriate caregiver quickly, no matter where that caregiver is. As the hospital continues to implement its EMR initiative, the tradition of staff walking from unit to unit and picking up paper charts is ending.
"Our staff will be able to log in through a physician or clinician portal and get information quickly, which will enable them to make faster, more informed decisions," says Clyatt. She is receiving a lot of positive feedback from the users of the hospital's new public Internet. Monitoring of monthly usage reports shows steady increases every month.
With the new network deployed, Proctor continues to look forward and is already considering adding radio frequency identification to the network to help track healthcare devices.
"We no longer have technology limitations on how our caregivers offer patient care," says Clyatt. "We are currently deploying a bar-coded medication administration application and continue to look at portable devices we can add to the network to enhance patient care. This is a solution that will grow with us."
For More Information
To find out more about Cisco solutions for healthcare organizations, visit: www.cisco.com/go/healthcare.
Routing and Switching
Cisco Catalyst 6509 Core Switch Security
Cisco Secure Access Control Server
Cisco Unified Wireless Network
Cisco 1131 Lightweight Access Points