New wireless technology which enables a user to track the location of equipment or drugs using their voice is ready to be installed in NHS trusts by the ANS Group.

The solution is based on Cisco wireless technology, and will allow staff to talk into a device and ask where the required resource currently is. The device will then search through databases in the hospital the wireless network is integrated to, and text a response to the user.

ANS Group’s technical director, Len Findley, told E-Health Insider: “The system runs over the trusts wireless network, and integrates with the other systems running on the same network. Once the person asks a question over where a resource is, the device searches for the nearest location where one is available and pages a response to the device in text message format.”

The aim of the system is to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs, whilst also improving service to the patient.

Fixed handsets with interactive voice response technology asking questions are also available.

One trust interested in the technology is the Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, who is keen to use the solution to allow parents to securely telephone into their child’s allocated bed via their new bed head entertainment/telephony system for the patients and families.

Findley said: “The system is feature rich and allows asset tracking to become simple. Nurses, porters and other key staff who need to locate assets do not want to have to look up where a resource is using a computer, as this delays their care of patients. Using voice technology, they just ask and soon get a response, without having to leave a patient waiting.”

ANS say the system will help to reduce annual equipment purchase and rental costs through better asset utilisation and sharing, reduce the average patient stay and improve the level of service, and will create reduced staff costs through better utilisation of existing resources.

The first rollout of the system is expected to take place in April or May and ANS Group are looking for more trusts to pilot the technology. The only pre-requisite needed is a fully working wireless network.

Cisco Europe’s director of unified communications, Clive Sawkins, said: “Cisco solutions help the NHS to enhance patient care and provide a robust network to run mission critical applications. We are excited to see Sheffield Children’s Hospital taking advantage of these solutions.”


ANS Group