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Cisco helps S'pore hospital tuck patients in bed

Alexandra Hospital trials a new healthcare application to speed up hospital admissions.

update SINGAPORE--A hospital in the island-state has begun a trial using Cisco's Clinical Connection Suite (CCS) to shorten patients' waiting time for a hospital bed.

One of the 13 wards in Alexandra Hospital is currently undergoing the pilot, said Liak Teng Lit, CEO of Alexandra Hospital, at a media briefing Tuesday. "Our goal is to admit a patient who needs a bed within minutes," he added.

Without using Cisco's application, the hospital's patients currently wait an average of about 20 to 80 minutes depending on the level of occupancy, said Alexandra Hospital's chief operating officer, Chew Kwee Tiang.

The system facilitates the coordination between the various departments, such as housekeeping and bed management, automatically matching empty beds to new patients. For example, when a patient is discharged from a ward, the ward clerk can alert housekeeping via the system. Staff nurses and housekeeping staff are equipped with mobile devices with Wi-Fi access, to speed up the information flow.

According to Liak, the system will also be able to reduce the time nurses spend on coordination activities with respect to assigning beds to new patients, by about 30 percent.

The hospital has begun to use the application, and feedback from the nurses and administrative staff have been positive, added Chew.

Craig Gledhill, managing director for Singapore and Brunei at Cisco Systems, noted that Alexandra Hospital is the first in Asia to use the bed management component of the CCS, which was launched in October 2005. Other CSC application modules available include a system to enhance communication between nurses and fellow hospital staff or patients, and a patient monitoring system that enables medical personnel to obtain patients' data or updated information on their condition.

Gledhill said two other medical facilities, the Boston Medical Center in the United States and the St. Olav's Hospital in Oslo, Norway, implemented a module to enhance communication between nurses and fellow hospital staff or patients last year. Cisco is also in talks with "all countries in the Asia-Pacific region" to roll out the CCS.

Cisco and Fujitsu, the systems integrator, have jointly invested about US$100,000 into the pilot project at Alexandra Hospital, said Gledhill.

Liak noted that Alexandra Hospital has so far operated on a "taking small steps in rapid succession" approach, where it tests new technology and deploys if suitable. While the hospital budgets "millions of dollars" a year on IT, it has not made any spending commitments for the system that is on trial, he added. It will in the coming months try out the other modules under the CCS.

Chew added that the hospital will continue to source for relevant technology in the market for its new facility, which will be ready in 2009.