Costs down, quality up: A hospital goes wireless


"With the Vocera system, just taking into account lost time for nurses, we'll recapture $1 million in lost salary. We're re-gaining 45 to 50 minutes per nurse per shift. And that's just time they were going somewhere to talk on the telephone."

The medication barcoding system reported even better results, catching more adverse drug events where a patient could have taken inappropriate medicine.

"Before we started, we reported 200 adverse drug events a year," Christiano said. "After we put in the new system, we [projected] over 1,600 a year." Out of those, there were, perhaps, a dozen, that would have resulted in either health or administrative problems.

"It's a risk management issue," Christiano said. "By putting in the new system, we'll probably save over $8 million in administrative time, additional drugs to counteract drugs -- all that has been avoided."

But the most important benefit isn't necessarily monetary, Christiano said.