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Michigan's Memorial Healthcare Adopts Ekahau Wi-Fi Tags

The hospital is using the tags to enable personnel to request help or send an alert while working in the behavioral health unit, as well as track the temperatures of medicines and other perishables within its pharmacy.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 20, 2013

Michigan hospital Memorial Healthcare has installed a real-time location system (RTLS) employing Wi-Fi active radio frequency identification tags supplied by Ekahau, to enhance the safety of staff members and track temperatures within its pharmacy's department coolers. In addition, the medical facility plans to extend the system's use for tracking assets, as well as for identifying instances when patients are at risk for wandering.

Memorial Healthcare installed the system within its behavioral health unit (where psychiatric patients are treated) to replace an outdated proprietary RFID system for monitoring staff safety. The facility found that the Ekahau solution could be utilized for other applications as well, beginning with tracking temperatures, in order to reduce the amount of time that staff members spend monitoring and recording the temperatures of medication refrigerators, and to collect more accurate electronic data that could be used to fulfill the Joint Commission's reporting requirements.

Memorial Healthcare's Dan Jacobs

According to Dan Jacobs, Memorial Healthcare's senior network analyst, the hospital's existing RFID system for transmitting alerts from workers in need of help was becoming outdated by 2010, and the technology provider was no longer offering its RFID products. The company assembled a selection committee to study its requirements for a new alerting system, and the committee determined that one of the most important prerequisites was an RTLS solution that would use the hospital's existing Cisco Wi-Fi network, making it relatively easy and inexpensive to continue scaling with more functions throughout the medical center as necessary. After the selection committee visited other facilities using the Ekahau system, Memorial Healthcare selected the firm to provide RTLS Wi-Fi-based staff badges, three infrared beacons (to provide greater location granularity within two examining rooms and a breezeway entrance to the remainder of the hospital), and Ekahau's Vision software (to manage location data based on badge transmissions).

Without the use of infrared beacons, says Mark Norris, Ekahau's president and CEO, the technology can typically determine a badge's location within 3 to 5 meters (9.8 to 16.4 feet). If greater granularity is required, the firm recommends utilizing the IR beacons.

The hospital opted to install Ekahau tags with temperature sensors within five refrigerators and a single freezer used for storing chemotherapy medication, blood, tissues and other medicines. The system was taken live with both functions during the fourth quarter of 2012.

For the security solution, staff members—including security guards, caseworkers, health-care providers and housekeepers—obtain an Ekahau B4 badge, to be worn around the neck on a lanyard, upon arriving each day at the hospital's 10,000-square-foot behavioral health unit. There are approximately 21 badges in use on any given day.

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