UCLA Medical goes to mobile and wireless access to patient data

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UCLA Medical Center is piloting a mobile, wireless patient information retrieval system developed by Global Care Quest designed to grant physicians quick and flexible access to patient data from virtually anywhere real-time. The system dubbed GCQ can be used with mobile devices such as Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and cellular smart phones.

The GCQ is integrating with UCLA's digital medical records, bedside charting and laboratory results, to create a comprehensive digital medical data storage and retrieval system. This is the first time PDA and cellular smart phone access to real-time data from bedside ICU monitors, as well as x-ray and CT/MRI scan imaging studies.

On the technical end, access to the data is done a wireless network (Wi-Fi or 802.11b), and for remotely connection outside the facility through high-speed cellular network connections (1xRTT, EV-DO, EDGE).

"With functions far beyond pagers and voice-only cell phones, this represents the next generation of wireless medical communication.  In the future, we see every physician carrying a personal wireless information device that provides real-time access to complete patient data," said Neil Martin, MD, professor and chief of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-developer of the GCQ system. "These tools hold the promise to improve the quality and safety of patient care, avoid medical errors, and enhance cost-effectiveness.  By using GCQ to automate routine and cumbersome paperwork, physicians and other healthcare workers will save time so that they can concentrate on taking care of patients," Martin added.

"As intensivists, we need to deliver right care, right away," said Paul Vespa, MD, associate clinical professor, director of neurocritical care, UCLA. "Given the shortage of intensivists, technologies such as GCQ are invaluable in extending the reach of our care by allowing us to respond instantly to emergencies from any location 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

The GCQ system integrates with hospital and clinical information systems through wireless networks accessible on both Palm OS and Pocket PC (Windows Mobile) devices, as well as standard MS Windows-based desktop and tablet computers. Data security is ensured through authentication codes and data encryption that meets standards set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), according to developers.