Automating Hospital Systems Will Save Lives And Millions Says GE

In short

In quite an unusual and ballsy bit of PR, GE Global Research has been making some noise about the work its technology development arm is undertaking. The company says its  scientists will soon begin a groundbreaking project designed to leverage the power of the Industrial Internet to transform the way hospitals manage and track their thousands of surgical tools.

Background

What GE is envisioning is an intelligent system managing the surgical tool sterilisation process in a hospital. In so doing it aims to ensure safe delivery of care, with new levels of hospital efficiency, and delivering with “surgical accuracy” all of the medical devices doctors need to perform life-saving procedures.

The target for researchers is the development of a prototype system capable of locating, sorting, delivering, and sterilizing surgical tools with little oversight. A mash up of technology, including robotic systems, RFID, and computer vision will form the backbone of the automated system. Tools such as clamps and scalpels will be provided a unique ID so that they are readily identifiable by various robotic components. The prototype system will perform various tasks, including kitting of surgical tools, movement throughout the sterilisation process, and transport to and from the operating room, ensuring the correct tools are in the right place, at the right time, and in sterile and working order.

Company comments

“The technologies we’re investigating have been used to automate manufacturing processes in industrial settings for years, and we believe they, in combination with a new level of intelligence, can have a substantial impact in hospitals,” said Lynn DeRose, Principal Investigator and Auto-ID technology expert in the Distributed Intelligent Systems Lab at GE Global Research. “At GE, we’re uniquely positioned to construct a smart solution that can make operating rooms run more efficiently, save millions of dollars in healthcare costs and lead to better patient outcomes.”

Source: GE Healthcare

Full release here