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New Disaster Preparedness Technologies Under Development at NLM!

The National Library of Medicine is developing and testing several new technologies which may help transform the way hospitals keep track of patients during emergencies. The People Locator and the Patient Tracking and Locating System are research projects being conducted as part of the public-private Bethesda Hospitals’ Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BHEPP). The People Locator, which is part of the Lost Person Finder, is an online “lost and found” Web site, that can include a person’s name, gender, age, health condition, and any available photo, to assist family members, emergency officials, and others during a disaster search. The Patient Tracking and Locating System, produced by NLM’s Office of Computer and Communications Systems (OCCS), consists of a commercial digital pen that captures patient information via a tiny camera, and tracking of disaster patients and equipment with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in a real-time location system (RTLS). This system would allow broadcasting of patient location and condition to care providers at a central location, and a software application devised by the OCCS could be used to transfer patient records electronically between hospitals.

The BHEPP formed in 2004, to develop a coordinated disaster response model for hospitals across the country. BHEPP partners include the NLM and three nearby hospitals; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and Suburban Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine, a non-profit community-based hospital in Bethesda, MD. In addition, NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) also has projects under development, including the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS), a back-up communications system for hospital emergency operations centers, and the Hospital Incident Command Center, a responder training research project that uses “virtual world” technologies. Further details about these projects are available in the NLM in Focus newsletter.

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