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Patient Tracking and Locating System Wins HHSinnovates Award

Disaster Management Tool is Third NLM Effort to Receive HHSinnovates Honor


The National Library of Medicine (NLM) and its partners in the Bethesda Hospitals' Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BHEPP) won a coveted HHSinnovates award for developing a tool to help hospitals handle the surge of patients during a disaster. The portable, electronic system provides real-time information on the number of incoming patients, the severity of their injuries, and their location within the hospital so key personnel can quickly make strategic decisions about patient care and safely share patient information when victims are moved from one hospital to another.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius named The Patient Tracking and Locating System as a "Secretary's Pick" in the latest HHSinnovates awards announced March 30, 2012.  The system was developed and tested during disaster drills by NLM and the three nearby hospitals that form the public-private BHEPP:  the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, which like NLM is part of the National Institutes of Health; the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, also part of the federal government; and Suburban Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine, a community-based hospital in Bethesda, Md.

"NLM is thrilled that Secretary Sebelius recognized this innovative work and the unique collaboration that produced it," says NLM Director Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD. "The library's expertise, and the focus of its research and development, is information and communication. Applying that expertise to disaster management is another way we can make a difference in public health."

BHEPP's mission is to develop a coordinated response to disasters that could serve as a model for hospitals in communities across the country. The Patient Tracking and Locating System is one of several disaster management tools developed and studied as part of BHEPP. The Patient Tracking and Location System includes:

  • an existing, commercial digital pen that captures patient information on paper and electronically
  • an application developed by NLM to securely transfer parts of a patient's record from one hospital to another
  • a real-time location system that uses infrared and radio-frequency to track the locations of patients from the time they arrive at a hospital until the time they leave the facility
  • software developed by NLM that allows data from the pen and tracking system to be collected, stored, and shared electronically.

This is the third time NLM has been recognized with an HHSinnovates award. The two previous winners are MedlinePlus Connect and NLM Video Search software.

For more on HHSinovates Round 4, you can view the HHS news release.

The awards ceremony can be viewed on the HHS YouTube channel.