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News / India / Health

US medical school develops NFC medication tracking system

Harvard Medical School’s teaching affiliate Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has initiated an NFC system that would help in administration and tracking of patient’s medication.

The NFC tags are attached to patients’ wristbands, medications and nurses’ ID badges and is meant to facilitate the administration of medicines to be easier, safer, fast and more cost-effective. The new technology is run on Android tablet PCs, said Dr Adam Landman, Director of Clinical Informatics for BWH’s Emergency Medicine Department, and leader of the system developer team.

The new system uses a combination of Google Nexus 7 NFC devices that run the application and keep details of each patient and their prescribed medications.

To administer the medication, nurses can simply use teh NFC tablet to tap the tags on the patient’s wristband, on the medication, and on their ID badges. The application on the tablet will then checks and see if the medication and dosage is the correct one for the patient.

The application will also keep records on which medication has been administered to the patient and by whom.

The BWH is now testing the new system in the simulation lab suing mannequins as substitute patients.

The BWH currently uses a barcode system to manage the medication process. Nurses scan barcode using portable workstations.

“There are a couple of challenges we are facing with the barcode system. First, the workstations that nurses are using can be large and really difficult to navigate in a healthcare setting and second, the barcodes can be really difficult to scan,” Dr Landman said.

He added that the demand for technology in the US is high and there has been a growing trend for hospital to adopt electronic medication administration record (eMAR) technology due to the fact that nurses spend on average of 28% of their time in administering medicines.

If the trial of the new system proves its success, the hospital hopes to take the small trial with the real environment.

“If we can make that process easier, safer and faster as well as being more cost-effective then NFC is a technology a lot of hospitals will be interesting in using, which is why we have conducted the trial,” he said.

The trial application only contains the patient’s name and their medication information. But the technology used in promising for the broader use in the future, he added.

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