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While browsing freshpatents.com for software patents, I happened upon Patent Application #20120226507, which seeks to patent a system for moving patient beds from one room to another. The claims:

  • A system for the facilitation of bed transitions in health care system comprising:
    • a vendor network subsystem,
    • a bed transitions subsystem and
    • a nurse realty subsystem
  • A web based application for the facilitation of bed transitions in health care systems comprising:
    • a web browser
    • an application generating a webpage
    • an application for generating a bed transition system.

To me, this seems pretty obvious technology. While I am unable to find a directly analogous software package, there are numerous patient management systems in existence, which manage the patient experience as well as handle doctor/nurse scheduling.

Some examples of patient/inpatient management systems:

  • NextGen (http://www.nextgen.com/EHR)
  • Epic InPatient Clinicals (http://www.epic.com/software-inpatient.php)

InPatient Clinicals seems to be very close to the patent's description. Does anyone know of a more exact prior art example?

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1  
No question asked. It is not unusual for a patent to be granted in an area with many existing solutions. Anticipation requires that a single piece of prior art discloses all of the elements of a claim. Obviousness requires that one or more pieces of prior art - coupled with the knowledge of one of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention - taken together teach all of the elements of a claim. –  user96 Sep 18 '12 at 16:20
    
Thank you for the comment, I have amended my post to actually ask the implied question. Sorry for such an obvious oversight! –  WheresTheDirty Sep 18 '12 at 16:30

5 Answers 5

If you read further into the patent under [0022] it says:

The examples below describe a web based computer network. Although the present examples are described and illustrated herein as being implemented in internet based system, the system described is provided as an example and not a limitation.

IANAL, but I believe prior art for this patent would just be any hospital that currently manages beds. It does not even need to be a software management system. It could be paper based, or whiteboard based, etc.

For instance, if you could show a hospital that has a list of vendors, a list of beds, and a list of nurses and uses those three things to manage where beds are then simply reimplementing this in software, does not add anything novel to the process.

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I haven't read the entire patent, so you may be right, but in general a patent claim is interpreted on its face and its scope is defined by the words of the claim and the words of the specification of the patent that define and explain the meaning and bounds of the terms of the claim. Therefore, because the claim clearly describes an embodiment of the invention where there is a web-based computer network, the fact that the specification describes that a web-based network is not the only way that the invention can be made does not limit claim's scope. –  user1443 Sep 28 '12 at 21:43

The patent is about transferring a patient from a health care organization to a third party post-acute facility. I have no knowledge of any other software that does this. However, as mentioned above, virtually all that is mentioned in the patent is a software reimplimentation done by HCO's as a service during discharge.

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Dutch software focused on patient / bed transport, with a web interface: http://www.ortusgroupbv.com/arta

Consists of bed management and patient transport management. Seems like an exact match to me.

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Specifically, ARTA (developed in 2004), has a module for "patient transport." ortusgroupbv.com/patiententransport –  user491 Sep 20 '12 at 20:13
    
This a typical system assigning beds in a hospital. The patent is for a system that helps discharged patients find a post-care facility (ie a nursing home). –  Diego Escalera Sep 20 '12 at 21:14

The Epic enterprise suite of applications very likely covers any claim made by this application. Although Inpatient Clinical is a component of that, that application's focus is more on clinical documentation and order entry. The Epic ADT application has a number of modules geared specifically towards bed management and has been in use since the late 90s.

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This seems like prior art to me: http://agiletrac.gehealthcare.com/

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Please consider expanding this answer to include such details as how this is related to the claim. Thanks. –  Robert Cartaino Sep 20 '12 at 19:40

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