Versus Technology, Inc.

December 01, 2010 10:41 ET

Patient Tracking a Success During BHEPP Emergency Response Drill

TRAVERSE CITY, MI--(Marketwire - December 1, 2010) -  Just ten weeks after Versus Technology, Inc. (Versus) (PINKSHEETS: VSTI) was selected to support the Bethesda Hospitals' Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BHEPP) Real-time Locating System (RTLS) initiative, the Versus Advantages system was recently utilized during the organization's disaster preparedness drill.

The October 14, 2010 drill was the sixth annual Collaborative Multi-Agency Exercise (CMAX-10) since the BHEPP was formed in 2004, and the first to utilize RTLS for continuity of patient information. Participating organizations included Suburban Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the National Naval Medical Center (both trauma centers), the U.S. NIH Clinical Center, and the National Library of Medicine. The drill was designed to test the medical readiness and response proficiency supposing a mass casualty in the National Capital Region. Surge capabilities and patient tracking were key components to be tested.

The BHEPP began exploring RTLS options after the inability to track patients during a mass casualty event had been documented as a gap in multiple real disasters. The U.S. Navy produced a video for CMAX-09, in which, Brian Grangnolati, President, Suburban Hospital states, "If you think about what the biggest problem is in any crisis, it's communication and moving information" as he explains the need for RFID / RTLS. Versus' RTLS was selected to enhance communication and keep information tied to patients, even as they are moved from facility to facility.

The BHEPP's goal is to create a sustainable response model that can be replicated in other areas, especially densely populated areas at risk for national disasters or terrorist attacks. "Having real-time information related to the victim's arrival and location was immensely helpful to the first-time Incident Commander in his decision making," says Cindy Notobartolo, Division Director ED/Trauma, Safety & Security Services at Suburban Hospital. "Within our patient information system, the patient's location was tied to triage and treatment data and made available in real-time to all emergency care personnel. The external evaluators were impressed that our tracking ability was 100% throughout the exercise."

During the drill, as victims arrived at Suburban Hospital triage area, they were decontaminated, triaged and assigned Versus ID badges which were worn clipped to the victim's clothing. A photo of the victim was also taken to support Lost Person identification and family reunification efforts. Emergency personnel then transported the patient to the appropriate treatment area.

The Versus ID badges, which emit digitized infrared (IR) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) signals, immediately communicated the patient's location and triage level to care providers and Central Command via the BHEPP's patient information system. When patients were reassessed, treated or moved to other areas, their locations were updated in real-time. Location of key personnel and equipment was also provided in real-time.

Versus prepared views and rules to support the key RTLS drill functionality as outlined below.

  1. Real-time locating of all patients from decontamination and triage through discharge or hospital admission. 
  2. Rules-based pediatric monitoring, with location-based alerts to help ensure children are secure and monitored at all times. The CMAX-10 drill did not take advantage of the dedicated pediatric area; however, the rules for monitoring and securing pediatric patients are in place and fully functional for future use. 
  3. Real-time locating of critical equipment to decrease time to locate, improve utilization and support sharing across participating facilities. 
  4. Web service integration with National Library of Medicine's Patient Tracker for badge assignments, triage level and patient demographic information as it became available to the provider.
  5. Real-time locating of key mass casualty incident personnel to improve communication and enhance decision-making capabilities of the Incident Commander. 
  6. Tracking the evacuation of current hospital patients and their arrival at remote partner facilities for expanded surge capacity.

CMAX-10 was a valuable exercise for both the BHEPP and Versus; each organization identified areas for improvement related to expanded use, patient identification, training, information availability, advanced rules for patient transfer and make-ready operations. They look forward to building on this foundational experience to enhance communication and safety during future drills and in the event an actual response is required.

This partnership is a first-of-its-kind collaboration that links military, federal, local and private mass disaster medical response efforts within the national capital area. Established in 2004, the partnership is now a model for other health care agencies throughout the country.

About Versus Technology, Inc.
Established in 1988, Versus Technology, Inc. specializes in real-time location systems (RTLS) for healthcare. Used for enterprise patient tracking, bed management, asset tracking, and nurse call automation, Versus Advantages™ improves patient flow and documentation of caregiver and patient interactions, while enhancing communication and efficiency. Exclusively endorsed by the American Hospital Association, the Versus Advantages infrared (IR) and Active RFID solution is responsible for clinical-grade location and automation at a number of hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities worldwide. To learn more about Versus Technology, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: VSTI), our technology and client successes, visit and take the Advantages Tour.

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