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Philips Introduces Asset-Tracking System for Health Care

Using RFID technology from AeroScout, the solution is designed to work with a hospital's existing Wi-Fi infrastructure.
By Beth Bacheldor
Dec 05, 2006Royal Philips Electronics' medical-systems division has introduced a new asset-tracking solution leveraging RFID and standard Wi-Fi-based wireless networks. This new division will help hospitals not only track medical devices, but also monitor how staff members handle such devices.

Built on a suite of software Philips designed to help health-care institutions manage their staff, patient care, assets and operations, the system has been integrated with real-time location system (RTLS) hardware and software from San Mateo, Calif.-based RTLS specialist AeroScout. The RTLS system includes AeroScout T2 active RFID tags; AeroScout Exciters, which activate the tags to transmit their ID numbers, thus providing location information whenever tags pass by their locations; and AeroScout Engine, a software component that calculates tag locations by processing data from Wi-Fi access points and the active tags. AeroScout's MobileView software associates each tag's ID with the corresponding device, while also collecting and storing location data. The MobileView software can also portray location information on a map, or in a table or report format.

Josh Slobin
Hospitals can apply T2 tags to a variety of medical equipment—such as ultrasound machines, electrocardiogram (EKG) machines or compression pumps used to treat thrombosis and improve circulation. Each tag transmits a 2.4 GHz signal carrying the tag's unique ID. The transmission uses the IEEE 802.11 air-interface protocol, known as Wi-Fi, so organizations with existing networks of Wi-Fi access points need not install proprietary interrogators to collect tag data.

More and more hospitals are installing Wi-Fi networks. According to Barb Taylor, a marketing manager with Philips medical-systems division, the combination of Philips' medical management software and AeroScout's Wi-Fi-based RTLS system provides hospitals an asset-tracking solution that's less expensive and easier to install. "That helps to make the return on investment more obtainable, more quickly," she says.

Philips will help deploy the asset-tracking system, tailoring it to each hospital's specific needs to help the organization solve problems with productivity, regulatory requirements, utilization, theft and loss. "What Philips brings to the table is the health-care expertise and an in-depth knowledge of a hospital environment," Taylor says. "And we can add to the mix our suite of services and software that will enable hospitals to make improvements based on the information they are gathering from location data and location history."

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