Dutch Hospital Uses Beacons to Track Treatment for Cardiac Patients

A solution from Zebra Technologies allows Leiden University Medical to know in, real time, how long a patient has been at the hospital before undergoing angioplasty.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 14, 2015

The cardiology department of Netherlands health-care provider Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) has begun using a cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) solution provided by Zebra Technologies to track the amount of time it takes for cardiac-arrest patients to receive a balloon angioplasty treatment. The solution is helping the hospital to improve what it calls its door-to-balloon (DTB) rate, in order to better ensure that patients are treated as quickly as possible, thereby improving their chances of survival and recovery.

The solution is powered by Zebra's Zatar platform (hosted software that provides users with IoT data). The RFID company is now making the system, known as Time Tracking Solution for Acute Myocardial Infarction, commercially available to other hospitals. It is also offering the solution for other time-to-treatment use cases, such as for acute ischemic stroke victims, according to Thomas Kurian, Zebra's senior director of new growth platforms.

As soon as a heart-attack patient arrives at the emergency department, a wristband with a built-in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon is attached to that individual's arm.
Acute myocardial infarction (AMI), caused by a blockage in an artery to the heart, can reduce bloodflow enough to kill a patient. Therefore, providing fast treatment is critical. Hospitals try to keep track of their time performance on these kinds of time-sensitive procedures, but that is not always an easy process. To monitor such a procedure manually, an individual staff member writes down the time that the patient arrives, while employees in the lab input the times that the procedure began and ended. Such a manual system is laborious and prone to errors and incomplete data, the firm reports, since personnel can simply forget to enter times, or estimate the time incorrectly. What's more, a manual system cannot provide real-time visibility into delays that might occur between the entrance and the lab.

LUMC is a part of the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centers. The hospital sought an automated method of measuring and documenting its DTB performance, and then using the collected data to improve its DTB times. With that goal in mind, the facility established a DTB Task Force that began seeking technology to provide automated time measurements.

The hospital's representatives had seen Zebra's Zatar technology demonstration at the 2014 Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMMS) conference, and had viewed the Zatar solutions the company had on display. The hospital then asked Zebra to develop a time-tracking system for its door-to-balloon needs. LUMC tested the technology for approximately six months before taking it live last month. (LUMC did not respond to requests for comment regarding this installation.)

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