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Aethon’s Autonomous Mobile Robotic System Provides Complete Asset Utilization Solution
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Nov 01, 2007
More Service and Healthcare stories
Aethon Inc., a leader in automating the hospital supply chain, announced that FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, North Carolina, has successfully implemented Aethon’s autonomous mobile robotic system as the key component in its material handling re-engineering effort. Moore Regional was able to rapidly implement Aethon’s asset utilization solution within a five-month period without expansion to, or impact on, its existing LAN or wireless network.

“Moore Regional chose Aethon’s asset utilization solution because it is the best overall solution as well as the most economical one for achieving our objectives,” said Dave Dillehunt, CIO of FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. “The autonomous mobile robotic system helps us improve staff efficiency, increase asset utilization, decrease equipment rentals and improve regulatory compliance.”

Over the last decade hospitals have invested heavily in IT software and infrastructure. Comparatively, they’ve spent very little on supply chain automation. While it’s important that hospitals gather data and have good information systems, there is still a major bottleneck in delivering care when medications, supplies, equipment and other goods rely on scarce human resources for pushing carts. More importantly, these resources are often nurses, technicians and other caregivers whose time would be better spent managing and conducting direct care required to reduce errors and improve outcomes.

Aethon has addressed this core inefficiency in the hospital supply chain by developing a revolutionary navigational system that enables mobile robotic applications using nothing more than the building’s existing structure. Using this unique autonomous robotic capability, Aethon has created the first and only complete asset utilization solution. Aethon’s robots, called TUGs, can locate assets as well as transport them, both of which are essential to improving asset utilization. All of Aethon’s robots can be equipped with RFID antennas, giving them the ability to track assets over very large areas with very few antennas. Additionally, TUGs can provide automated transportation, ensuring that clinicians not only know where the equipment is, but can have it brought directly to the point of care so they don’t have to leave the patient care area.

Moore Regional’s asset utilization solution includes one HOMER, a specialized TUG dedicated to only asset tracking, three pharmacy TUGs and two materials handling TUGs for par stock replenishment to the floors from the warehouse. Both the HOMER and TUGs sport mobile antennas that track key hospital assets tagged with RFID tags. Once the robots identify where equipment is located, the data is passed to an asset utilization software program that provides overall visibility into the location of hospital assets. This translates into more efficient organization and location of the assets without adding costly hospital infrastructure.

Asset Utilization Cuts Costs and Ensures Compliance
“Aethon’s robots are key to helping our materials handling employees better serve our customers—the Moore Regional Hospital nursing staff,” said Doug Keeney, director of materials management at Moore Regional. “Since re-supplying the floors and ER equals 80 to 85 percent of Moore Regional Hospital’s overall inventory needs, the Aethon solution will make a huge impact. Moore Regional Hospital expects that the TUGs and HOMER will allow us to reduce our materials handling staff by 20 percent.”

In order to get the full benefit of its new asset utilization solution, Moore Regional Hospital plans to tag as many of its critical assets as possible: IV pumps, PCA pumps, SCDs (sequential compression devices) and AV pumps. Within the first two to three weeks of deploying the solution, the hospital began tagging the PCA pumps and SCDs that go to nursing units and are typically in short supply. Next to be tagged will be Moore Regional’s 678 IV pumps. The hospital expects that Aethon’s asset utilization solution will allow it to eliminate 250 pumps, saving an additional $180,000/year above the labor savings.

Another huge benefit of Aethon’s asset utilization solution is compliance. Moore Regional Hospital’s BioMed department is required to do periodic preventive maintenance tests on all equipment. With the Aethon solution, Moore Regional can easily locate the assets when needed, quickly recover them for inspection and maintenance, and quickly return those devices into service. For instance, in the PACU, or recovery room, the Aethon mobile robotic system helps determine how many critical pumps are needed and where they are located throughout the hospital so they can be cleaned, replaced and made available as needed.

About FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, North Carolina is a 385-bed acute care, not-for-profit hospital that serves as the referral center for a 15-county region in the Carolinas. It is the flagship hospital for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, the region’s first comprehensive health care network. Opened on Thanksgiving Day 1929, with 33 beds, five bassinets and a staff of 27, Moore Regional Hospital has grown to include an active medical staff of 192 physicians, a professional staff of more than 2,700 and more than 725 volunteers. Moore Regional Hospital offers a full range of health care services to people within the five-county primary service area and 10-county secondary service area. The sophisticated medical capabilities available at Moore Regional are usually found only in much larger metropolitan areas.

About Aethon
Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., Aethon is a leader in affordable autonomous mobile robots for practical business applications. In healthcare, the company’s automated technology platform is redefining hospital supply chain logistics by automating the location, delivery and recovery of key assets. The net result of Aethon’s low-cost, easy-to-install RFID-based asset utilization solution is improved caregiver efficiency and satisfaction, increased asset utilization, decreased equipment rentals, increased patient safety and satisfaction, and improved regulatory compliance. Over 100 hospitals nationwide have deployed Aethon’s robots. Aethon is a privately held, venture backed company. It has raised $22.5 million from Innovation Works, Draper Triangle Ventures, Salix Ventures, Ascension Health Ventures and Pacific Venture Group, among others. For more information, visit http://www.aethon.com.


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