Carnegie Mellon University

Integrated Innovation Institute

Engineering + Design + Business

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The Smart Bin

How do you help nurses find more time for their patients?

Life-saving medications such as IV bags are expensive, difficult to identify and hard to track in the hospital. Precious time is lost in this process, time that the nurse could spend caring for patients and attending to their families. Hospitals do not track IV drugs with other regular drugs, so nurses take the time to rigorously and repeatedly check and track IV drugs to ensure accuracy in administrating care. IVs even get lost between the pharmacy and patient floor.

At the same time, more than half the nursing workforce is nearing retirement. The increasing shortage beckons the healthcare industry to empower their staff with improved designs to increase efficiency and save money, while still increasing care.

The Solution

Harnessing RFID technology, students proposed Smart Bin, a container which identifies IV bags and alerts nurses via mobile phones of their arrival. Engineered to integrate batteries, RFID, LEDs and wireless cards, this solution creates an easy to use IV drug tracking and location information system. A minimal design ensures the bin is easy to clean, work with and power up. Molded with some transparency to identify contents, the thin and flat walls enable easy wipe-downs and can be compactly arranged in the medication room. Nurses receive alerts as soon as the IV bag reaches location; ensuring hospital staff spends more time with patients and less time looking for their drugs.