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Secure Care Unveils RTLS Solution for Hospitals

The company's EnVisionit solution offers a single platform for pinpointing the locations of patients, staff members and assets within a foot or less, and for managing that data.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 21, 2014

Secure Care Products Inc., a provider of RF-based electronic products to the health-care sector, reports that two of its customers will trial the company's new real-time location system (RTLS), known as EnVisionit, that offers such features as location granularity of 1 foot or less, as well as tags and a single platform to manage all RTLS solutions tracking everything from patients to assets and temperatures. Trials are slated to begin this year, says Al Larose, Secure Care's director of engineering, and a full product launch will take place during the third quarter of 2014.

The solution—Secure Care's first RTLS offering—provides improved location accuracy with fewer readers than most RTLS solutions, the company claims. In addition, the firm notes, by establishing a replacement program for the active ultra-wideband (UWB) tags, Secure Care offers customers better assurance against dead batteries, which render tags unusable. In the case of most RTLS solutions, users must periodically locate tags with expiring batteries and replace those batteries before they die entirely. Otherwise, those tags can be very difficult to find. To eliminate this problem, Secure Care automatically sends replacement tags to the hospital, according to a schedule it sets up. The hospital then replaces every tag it has have—which, Larose explains, is simpler than regularly looking for specific tags losing battery charge and replacing or recharging only those batteries.

The EnVisionit asset tag is designed to consume little power, resulting in a longer battery operating life.
For three decades, Secure Care, based in Concord, N.H., has been selling health-care security solutions that include infant-security and patient-wandering protection systems. It manufactures its own tags and readers in New Hampshire.

Secure Care's Al Larose
The company began investigating RTLS solutions in recent years, in order to offer greater functionality to its health-care customers. Its goal was to provide a single platform that hospitals could use to track patients, personnel and assets in real time. In response, Secure Care's engineers developed the EnVisionit system, which employs UWB transponders for monitoring infants, patients, employees, equipment and storage temperatures. The engineers also developed devices known as nodes, which act as tag readers. Because the tags utilize UWB technology to transmit their signals, the location data's granularity is to within a foot or less, says Steve Buhler, Secure Care's VP of business development and partner alliances. That granularity, he notes, also results from the hardware design, which was three years in the making. The design includes a low-power chip that yields a longer operating life for the tag's battery.

According to Buhler, EnVisionit can be installed for a specific use case, such as infant tracking, and can be scaled to include other use cases as well, such as monitoring assets, by simply applying additional tags. A hospital can acquire the EnVisionit software and install it on its own back-end system, or lease the software in the form a cloud-based service provided by Secure Care, thereby allowing access to such information as each tag's location, and analytics related to those locations or the tagged asset's status—for instance, "in-use," "available" or "requiring maintenance."

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