IBM and PatientKeeper, Inc. have announced an expansion of wireless capabilities to help hospitals enhance patient care, reduce medical errors, and increase the job satisfaction of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

As part of their collaborative efforts, IBM will market and resell PatientKeeper’s mobile platform and portfolio of wireless, point-of-care solutions. Those solutions enable a physician to view the patient’s electronic medical record, and use clinical decision support tools with one handheld device while at the patient’s bedside.

Though the agreement focuses on the US healthcare market, IBM is currently one of the front-runners to help deliver the NHS national programme for IT (NPfIT) as a local service provider (LSP). In addition to IBM, PatientKeeper is the wireless provider for US health health IT giant Cerner, an IBM global partner, which is also expected to win contracts under the national programme.

“PatientKeeper strengthens our Wireless and Mobility Solutions (WAMS) portfolio and will allow hospitals, doctors, and patients to enjoy real benefits from wireless and mobile technologies,” said Dr. Russ Ricci, general manager, IBM Global Healthcare Industry.

IBM’s WAMs portfolio offers healthcare providers a comprehensive wireless solution that includes hardware, design, and implementation, installation testing and LAN hosting services. IBM says that it can integrate PatientKeeper solutions with existing hospital information systems and support dozens of different network technologies and wireless standards protocols used worldwide.

The PatientKeeper mobile platform solution runs on WebSphere, IBM’s family of infrastructure software that helps customers take applications essential to running their business and extends them via the Web to customers, suppliers, partners and employees.

“In the near future, a physician will not longer consider seeing patients without a handheld device (PDA) any more than seeing them without a stethoscope,” predicted Dr. Joseph Pisegna, Associate Professor UCLA and Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the VA (Los Angeles).

Dr Pisegna added: “Mobile computing will take the guess-work out of medicine, reduce errors, and enable the physician to spend more time interacting with the patient. The collaboration of IBM and PatientKeeper supports the acceleration of mobile computing in creating a standard of care that improves patient safety, saves lives, and improves the work life for physicians, nurses, and other health professionals.”

The PatientKeeper Clinical Application Suite provides physicians with immediate access to the information needed to evaluate a patient’s condition and make informed decision. The software enables clinicians to see lab results, clinical notes, patient vital statistics, input/output data and alerts along with medication lists, allergies, and clinical reference information.