Cerner launches automated hospital rooms

Smart Rooms allow interactive access to health information, movies and games for patients and doctors

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By  Nathan Statz Published  June 1, 2009

Health information technology provider, Cerner, has launched its new range of ‘Smart Rooms’ for hospitals and healthcare institutions.

The new facilities provide patients with touch-screen access to health charts, entertainment, medical databases and even the lunch menu. The Kansas City-based company is also providing doctors, nurses and caregivers the ability to access reports and Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) from devices such as life-support and intravenous drips.

“I don't know about everybody else, but the few times I’ve been into a hospital it hasn’t been that fun, so if we can make it a more comfortable experience, one we're your part of the cure, one where you can also get a little entertainment to help you recover a little easier, those are some of the big goals we're trying to accomplish,” said Richard Berner, vice president and general manager of Cerner Middle East.

The Smart Rooms work from two different perspectives, that of the patient and the healthcare professional looking after them. For patients, the My Station unit acts as a touch screen by the bedside that controls automated functions within the room, such as television, blinds, lighting, bed position, temperature, movies, games and the lunch menu.

“Everything from an Xbox 360 to a Wii – in rehabilitation centres, a lot of times they will show off the Wiis, so they can do that from there,” said Sharla Dunn, solution consultant at Cerner.

Healthcare workers are able to access EMRs giving detailed access and control over life-support systems, pumps, closed-loop medication, charts, reports and logs via a remote that scans a hospital staff-member’s badge. The badges themselves are radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags that wirelessly convey information to the automated devices in the hospital.

The RFID badges will also trigger a coloured light outside the patient’s room when a clinician is in attendance. Dunn explains that the badges also come with an off switch for safety reasons, so that medical records and patient information does not flash up on the display screen if friends and relatives are visiting.

“If the patient it at risk of falling off the bed they can actually monitor that, send an alert to the nurse that is looking at an EMR who can see where there is a fall risk and go check on the patient,” added Berner.

Berner also pointed out that hospitals can use the My Station as a revenue source if they choose to charge for access to the entertainment features.

The backbone of the Smart Rooms is an MDBus, which Cerner are marketing as a ‘connectivity engine.’ The MDBus comes with 8 or 16 USB ports and enables medical equipment with CareAware architecture onboard to be connected together, controlled and can feed information for distribution and analysis into report format.

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