The hospital ID bracelet of the future: 5 hospitals weigh in

Jessica Kim Cohen - Print  | 

Some hospitals are going beyond the standard patient-identification wristband by integrating new technology into the wristband, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The standard hospital ID bracelet includes a patient's name and date of birth for identification purposes. However, in recent years critics have suggested these wristbands collect germs, can be difficult to read and often fall off — a set of problems that hospitals are looking to address by revamping the concept.

WSJ spoke with physicians and executives from five hospitals testing alternatives:

1. Children's Mercy Kansas City (Mo.): Paul Allen, MD, a pediatrician, said younger children tend to "hate" the hospital ID bracelet, often asking their parents to remove it. He and two partners developed an experimental tool called BodyGuard ID, a temporary cosmetic ink that prints patient information directly on the skin, which he said pediatric patients won't be as tempted to pull off.

2. Lenox Hill Hospital (New York City): Peter Costantino, MD, chairman of head and neck surgery, has spent three years developing a "shield-shaped adhesive strip" that patients can attach to almost anywhere on their body. An estimated 50 neurosurgery patients are testing the strip, which displays patient information larger than on a typical wristband.

3. New York-Presbyterian (New York City): Daniel Barchi, CIO of the health system, said the organization's outpatient center is testing paper ID bracelets that are printed like airplane boarding passes at a lobby kiosk. These bracelets let patients and caregivers pass through security and allow the system to track patients as they navigate the center.

4. St. Joseph Mercy Oakland (Pontiac, Mich.): Robert Jones, head of IT, said the hospital added technology from CenTrak, a company that incorporates real-time location tracking into ID wristbands. With the enhanced ID bracelets, the hospital can locate a patient anywhere in the facility, which helps staff streamline patient flow and turn over rooms for new patients more quickly.

5. Wake Forest Baptist Health (Winston-Salem, N.C.): Betsy Kraft, the clinical project manager helping to oversee one of the hospital's wristband projects, explained how Wake Forest Baptist Health is using wristbands equipped with CenTrak's technology to ensure cancer patients get enough exercise after surgery. The wristbands help staff measure how long a patient spends out of their room, for example.

To read the complete article in The Wall Street Journal, click here.

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