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New Oregon Hospital Adopts IR-RFID Hybrid System
Sacred Heart Medical Center is the third PeaceHealth hospital to install the Versus Technology system to track patient locations and treatments.
May 04, 2009—PeaceHealth, a health-care provider that operates six hospitals in the states of Alaska, Washington and Oregon, has installed a hybrid system using infrared technology and RFID provided by Versus Technology, to help it track patients in the emergency section of its newly constructed hospital, the Sacred Heart Medical Center, River Bend, located in Springfield, Ore. The new hospital, which receives approximately 160 visits in its emergency room daily, provides RFID-enabled badges to its emergency patients in order to track them throughout the facility. Some staff members also wear similar badges to allow the hospital to track their location, and when they are treating which patients.
PeaceHealth had installed the same system in 2006 at its Sacred Heart Medical Center, University District, located in Eugene, Ore., and in 2007 at St. Joseph's Hospital, in Bellingham, Wash. The health-care group also intends to deploy the technology in at least one more of its six hospitals.
At Sacred Heart, River Bend, patients can be treated at a variety of locations, often moving to a separate section of the hospital for diagnostics, to have blood drawn and to have X-rays, MRIs or CAT scans performed. Tracking patients without an automated system would have been time-consuming for the hospital's emergency staff, and would have resulted in delays in care. Without an automated system, employees would have had to manually input data regarding a patient's status, or walk through the facility's departments to locate a specific individual. PeaceHealth wanted a tracking system for its new hospital that would enable workers to know not only what care a particular patient has received in real time, but also which nurse or physician is assigned to that individual. With the system, the staff can see which procedures that patient receives, who provides them, and which procedures have already been completed.
"It's been a big value-added piece for nurses, knowing where the patient is, when tests have been administered and when they're back," says Ginger Banks, PeaceHealth's lead analyst for the Oregon region's tracking technology team.
With the Versus VISion system, when a patient arrives at Sacred Heart, River Bend, a VISion ID badge is attached to his or her clothing and remains with that patient the entire time he or she is being treated in the emergency department. The badge has two battery-powered chips—one for RFID, the other for infrared transmissions. Both chips transmit a unique ID number linked to patient-related data in the back-end system.
The infrared chip enables the badge to be located within about 2 feet, while the RFID chip, which transmits at 433 MHz using a proprietary air-interface protocol, provides a signal with a broad read range—up to 40 feet—that (unlike infrared) can penetrate walls. With the two transmissions, the badge can combine that long read range with infrared location precision that would require additional RFID antennas to accomplish alone. According to Banks, approximately 2,600 infrared and RFID interrogators, installed throughout the 1.2 million-square-foot hospital, capture the badge transmissions, thereby enabling the system to know the patient's location.
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