Innovators  

GE to apply manufacturing techniques to hospitals

A combination of robotic systems, RFID and computer vision technology is hoped to bring manufacturing efficiency to surgical tool packaging, delivery and sterilisation
 Washing tools multiple times by hand is inefficient
 
 

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GE Global Research are developing an intelligent system to leverage the power of the Industrial Internet to try and reduce the billions of dollars hospitals spend every year, as well as free-up hospital personnel to concentrate on patients.

The technology development arm of the GE Company, scientists at GE Global Research are working with GE Healthcare and the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs to develop a system capable of locating, sorting, delivering and sterilising surgical tools, removing the risk of human error.

Tools such as clamps and scalpels will be given a unique ID in order that robotic components can easily identify them and perform various tasks, such as ensuring the right tools are at the right place, at the right time, in working order and sterile.  

Principal Investigator and GE’s Auto-ID technology expert at the Distributed Intelligent Systems Lab, Lynn DeRose commented:

“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.

“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.”

The current system of inspecting, washing and counting tools multiple times by hand is inefficient, fraught with errors and could lead to critical delays in regards to a patient receiving life-saving treatments.

DeRose added:

“According to experts in the field, the surgical operation and recovery setting is considered the fastest growing and most resource intensive section of the hospital, accounting for approximately 30-50 percent of a hospital’s budget.

“Simply put, the operating theatre is the single largest contributor to a facility’s bottom line. Any gains in efficiency that lead to more revenue being generated will be felt in a big way.”

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