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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Application for the Future

So there's this nurse in charge of the intensive care unit (ICU) at a large hospital. She is looking at a special application on the display of her Apple iPad. The background of the app is the actual floor plan of the ICU. All over the display are these blue, green, silver, orange and red dots. Each dot represents a person or even a piece of medical equipment. The green dots are doctors. The blue dots are nurses and nurse's aids. The silver dots are important equipment like respirators. The orange dots are other hospital staff and the red dots are patients. Our head nurse can touch any dot and instantly see a name and certain vital information.
In essence this ICU would be light years ahead of this hospital I visited in Bihar, India in 1991.
Ananda Nagar, Purulia District 100008

Such an application by itself is invaluable but this application can do so much more. The nurse can touch a red patient dot and see the patient's vital statistics including heart rate, blood sugar levels and  even temperature, among other important stats. In fact, if these numbers are not normal, a patient's red dot will start pulsing to draw attention to itself.

The head nurse can also drag a particular dot to a different location. When she drags a blue dot to red dot, the nurse's aid associated with that blue dot gets a very specific text message telling him to go attend to Patient Z in Room 123. She can even drag the respirator's silver dot to the blue dot and then drag the combination of the blue and silver dots to Patient Z's red dot. The nurse's aid will get a message telling her to take the respirator with her to Room 123.

Implementing this type of application is not as complex as one might imagine. Everyone in the ICU already has a smartphone. A small application is installed on the smartphone to allow the Head Nurse to understand who a particular person is and where there are in the ward. When staff arrives for work they start up the application and soon begin receiving instructions.

There are extra dots in rows along the edge of the application. If our nurse drags one of these dots to the ward, someone gets a phone call asking them if they can report to work early or perhaps return to the ICU from somewhere else in the large hospital.

Putting all the important hospital equipment and patients in the application grid is a more complex task, but not really that much more difficult. Smart devices get attached to key equipment and suddenly they too are visible to the head nurse.

The use of this application is not limited to the head nurse, of course. The hospital administrator uses the same app to monitor what is going on all over the six buildings in the hospital complex. People in charge of hospital planning can review past app activity to see what went right and wrong during a recent crisis. If visitors are given a special badge, hospital security personnel can even have a very exact picture of where everyone in the building is at any given moment. In the end, this colorful little application provides real-time operations status reports and control of the most important functions the hospital provides to patients and the community.

I would hope this application is already under development and perhaps even in-use in some major hospitals. I really have no idea, I just thought it up while sitting here in my home office. I'm already thinking about how this same app can be used by a large manufacturing plant to understand many of the same details in their facility.

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