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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 03/20/98
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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College of Nursing & Health to Showcase New Clinical Communication System

Cincinnati--The University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Nursing and Health has been selected by FITNE Incorporated, a leader in technology for health care education, as a Center of Excellence in Community Health Care and Nursing Technology. As one of the seven Centers of Excellence across the nation, the nursing program will incorporate into its curriculum a new clinical communication system called the Nightingale Tracker, named in honor of the legendary 19th-century nurse Florence Nightingale.

This system was developed by FITNE, an Ohio based developer of interactive technology for health care. UCís nursing program was chosen from a field of 42 applicants through a competitive selection process. The other six centers are: Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, University of North Carolina in Charlotte, University of Florida in Gainesville, San Jose State University in California, and the University of South Dakota in Rapid City.

According to Nightingale Tracker Project Manager Vicky Elfrink, RN, PhD, UC was selected because of its expanding focus on community based clinical education, its ongoing cornintment to implementing information technology, and the expertise of the faculty. Elfrink says, "This partnership provides each center the opportunity to build upon FITNEís original research and contribute to the body of knowledge about information technology." Andrea Lindell, DNSc, dean of the UC College of Nursing and Health says, "The Nightingale Tracker system will also give nursing students some of the clinical computing skills they will need for jobs in the 21st century."

The Nightingale Tracker system includes a handheld device that students can carry into the patientís home, custom software, and a central server for storing patient records and facilitating online communication. Using a handheld unit, students can collect patient data at the point of care and transmit it via phone lines to the local server. Faculty members can access the server by using either a direct dial-up line or a local area network, and maintain a supervisory link with students in the field.

The handheld units also act as speaker phones to provide voice communication between the faculty and students. The new program at the UC College of Nursing and health will house a Nightingale Tracker "five-pack system," which includes a server, five handheld field units, custom software and training materials. FITNE will provide intensive training to clinical and technical staff at the school, as well as ongoing support throughout the project.

According to Susan Kennerly, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs at the UC College of Nursing and Health, "The Nightingale Tracker system will provide informational support to the advanced practice field nurse in community clinics or in peopleís homes." UC nurse educators are receiving training on the new system now and the Nightingale Tracker program will begin within the next month. UC College of Nursing and Health was one of the beta test sites for the Nightingale Tracker system and provided valuable insights that helped improve the Tracker overall performance.

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