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Ohio Hospital to Install RTLS Covering 5 Million Square Feet

Ekahau's system will enable the Ohio State University Medical Center to track assets, patients, employees and temperatures throughout its 40 buildings.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 13, 2009The Ohio State University Medical Center will begin installing one of the United States' largest health-care real-time locating system (RTLS) deployments this month, using its existing Cisco Wi-Fi infrastructure and Ekahau Wi-Fi tags to locate assets and individuals. The system, which will cover more than 5 million square feet comprising approximately 40 buildings, will take about three weeks to install, according to Tuomo Rutanen, Ekahau's VP of business development.

Once installed, Rutanen says, the system will initially consist of around 1,000 asset tags, but within the next two years, a total of 15,000 Wi-Fi RFID tags are expected to be deployed, to identify and track assets, patients and staff members. The hospital will employ Ekahau Positioning Engine location software on its own server to pinpoint each tag's location within the facility, and to conduct business analytics based on that location information.

Chad Neal, OSUMC’s director of technology
The hospital first began seeking a wireless locating system for assets approximately four years ago, says Chad Neal, OSUMC's director of technology. Originally, the facility looked into purchasing an RFID system that would include the installation of interrogators throughout its campus, in order to capture tags' ID numbers and pinpoint their locations. Such an installation, however, would be too time-consuming and expensive for a hospital of OSUMC's size, he notes. Installing a system in only part of the facility would be impractical, Neal says, since it would be an incomplete system that would lose sight of assets and people once they left the coverage area.

While OSUMC determined that a system leveraging the hospital's existing 802.11 Wi-Fi network would be the best solution, it also felt the technology lacked maturity at that time. Therefore, the medical center put its RFID plans on hold, waiting for the technology to become less expensive and more effective. In the meantime, it upgraded its Wi-Fi infrastructure, installing about 3,000 Cisco Wi-Fi access points and 30 network controllers across its entire campus.

In September 2009, the hospital then compared RTLS solutions from two companies, holding concurrent proof-of-concepts tests in which the two firms—one being Ekahau—competed. For each vendor, the hospital utilized 100 tags deployed on four floors in two buildings, then gathered metrics regarding the tags' read accuracy—for example, how long it took for workers to locate a particular tag after its icon was displayed on the computer screen, how close to the displayed location the tag was actually positioned, and whether there were any cases of "floor jumping" in which a tag turned out to be on the floor above or below that on which the software had indicated it to be located.


Neetin Vyas 2010-01-17 05:52:51 PM
RFID Application Engineer I have also worked on real time location system using UHF G2 tags. I will be very interesting to learn more about tags and equipment used in hospital. Thanks, Neetin Vyas
Tomas Djemrovski 2010-01-22 03:09:25 PM
IT development I will be very interesting to learn more about tags and equipment used in hospital. Thanks

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