A Medical Device Daily

Uninterrupted communication within a hospital is a requirement for physicians, patients and visitors and is essential to quality care. Sprint (Reston, Virginia) and GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) reported that they are collaborating to provide in-building wireless communications services to hospitals in North America.

Because of this arrangement, the companies said that patients, clinicians and hospital visitors will benefit from secure, reliable voice and data communications, supporting an environment conducive to higher levels of patient care.

Historically, the use of mobile phones in hospitals has been limited due to unreliable wireless support and the risk of interference between wireless phones and medical equipment. Using the new combined offering, the companies said that physicians and caregivers will be able to communicate amongst each other and securely access patient information from almost anywhere in the facility.

The new in-building cellular communications network from GE Healthcare and Sprint’s Custom Network Solution (CNS) team leverages GE’s CARESCAPE Enterprise Access, a single, universal wireless platform powered by MobileAccess, and includes Sprint handsets. This solution is designed to provide hospitals with a comprehensive platform for voice and data communications over secure cellular, Wi-Fi and telemetry infrastructure that requires only one installation.

“We are very excited to partner with GE Healthcare to provide differentiated and innovative mobile solutions that are critical for every business. This new solution facilitates constant communication of secure information amongst hospital staff; an aspect very critical to patient care,” said Darlene Braunschweig, VP of CNS at Sprint.

In other agreements:

• Emergency Medical Services (EMS; Greenwood Village, Colorado) clarified the details of the national medical transportation agreement its American Medical Response (AMR; Greenwood Village, Colorado) subsidiary has entered into with Aetna (Hartford, Connecticut).

Under the terms of the agreement, AMR will be the exclusive provider of non-emergency transportation management services, including wheelchair and paratransit services for qualified Aetna Golden Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Aetna’s Medicare Advantage special plan offering designed for lower income Medicare beneficiaries. AMR will provide transportation management services using the Access2Care system it gained with the recent acquisition of Abbott Ambulance (St. Louis).

“Aetna is pleased to provide a safe ride to and from covered medical services including doctors appointments and lab tests for our Medicare beneficiaries who otherwise might struggle with how to get to their scheduled appointments,” said Eric Cormier, Aetna’s general manager for retiree markets. “Transportation challenges too often prevent people from keeping their regular doctors appointments and going in for the preventive care and screening tests that can be critical to detecting disease early and managing chronic health conditions.”

Service is being implemented first in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) and the mid-Atlantic region, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, and will expand to additional service areas in 2008.

AMS is a provider of medical transportation. It is locally operated in 37 states and the District of Columbia.

• Premier Purchasing Partners (Charlotte, North Carolina) reported that a new agreement for oral care products has been awarded to Sage Products (Cary, Illinois).

This new agreement was effective Aug. 1 and offers discounted pricing for oral care products to acute-care and continuum-of-care members of the Premier alliance.

Premier operates one of the nation’s largest healthcare purchasing networks.