Monitoring hand hygiene is a major objective of the pilot program.

A pilot program that utilizes multiple-sensing technology intended to reduce patient safety risks and improve outcomes has begun at Bassett Medical Center, a 180-bed, acute care facility in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The "Smart Patient Room," which is being developed by GE Healthcare and GE Global Research, utilizes several sensors placed in the patient room to track the movement of clinicians and patients, and to capture the time between activities in the room.

The room is designed initially to track hand-hygiene compliance of clinicians, determine whether clinicians have made their rounds of patient rooms, and provide real-time monitoring of patient movement to guard against falls.

The system gathers information that generates data for a report to help hospital administrators better manage clinical workflow, identify opportunities to change clinician behavior and improve patient safety, says Jeff Terry, managing principal, clinical excellence, GE Healthcare, Performance Solutions.

Research and development of the Smart Patient Room are planned to continue through 2011, says Terry. "The first phase of our planned research at Bassett is intended to understand the clinical complexities of collecting data in a real-patient environment. Throughout the research, we expect to refine the technology and better understand the right way to gently notify clinicians when action is required," he says.