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Gentag and AHC Debut NFC RFID Solution for North American Home Health Aides

The two companies are launching a product that includes a specially built cell phone and software that enables workers to chronicle their patient visits via system already in use the United Kingdom.
By Claire Swedberg
May 14, 2013

Gentag and Advanced Health & Care (AHC) are offering a low-cost radio frequency identification solution for managing services supplied by home health-care providers. The system consists of a low-cost Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled cell phone, designed by Gentag, and software from AHC. With the system, health-care workers are issued the phones, which they can tap against an RFID tag installed within a client's home, to indicate when they arrive and leave. The phone also allows for calls, text messages and Internet browsing, while the software collects data regarding visits and provides workers with details about the tasks they must complete at each site.

Advanced Health & Care, a U.K.-based supplier of IT solutions for out-of-hospital and home health-care provider organizations, developed the system for homecare providers in the United Kingdom, and is supplying those users with Gentag NFC-enabled handsets. The solution is being utilized by homecare providers, including those working for the Bath and North East Somerset branches of Bluebird Care.

The Gentag NFC Phone GT-601v2 has a built-in NFC RFID reader based on NXP Semiconductors' PN544 chip.

The handset communicates via 2G (GSM, GPRS, EDGE) or 3G phone service, which the companies are offering as a bundled service (with data and voice plans) via the Vodafone, EE and O2 mobile service providers in the United Kingdom. The phone service plan typically costs approximately £14 ($21) per user, per month.

Gentag, a U.S. technology developer, designed the NFC handsets to operate as a stripped-down mobile phone that does not support the types of applications and other functionality that can be loaded onto most commercially available smartphones, according to John Peeters, Gentag's president and CEO. As such, they are targeted at workers who have specific tasks to complete that could benefit from using NFC tag reads to identify their location.

In the United Kingdom, Bluebird's health aides, like those working for similar care providers, make periodic visits to clients who are often elderly and unable to leave their home for doctors' visits. While this work was once performed by government personnel, it is now typically carried out by private contracting companies that must provide a close account of which services they provide, and to whom. For many years, says Chris Griffin, AHC's director of advanced mobile communications division, home visits were documented by means of landline phones. Staff members would arrive at a client's home, and then use that person's landline to call the office and report what they were doing.

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