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Tift Regional Medical Center Tracks Crash Carts, and More

Wi-Fi RFID tags enable the Georgia hospital to identify the locations of carts, assets and important paperwork, and to record the temperatures of refrigeration units.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 25, 2011Tift Regional Medical Center, located in Tifton, Ga., is employing a Wi-Fi-based system to track the locations of documents, crash carts (a rolling set of trays for transporting medication and equipment) and other assets, as well as the temperatures of refrigerators. The solution, provided by real-time location system (RTLS) company AeroScout, utilizes AeroScout's T2 RFID tags for tracking assets and T5 tags for monitoring temperatures, says Joel Cook, the vendor's director of health-care solutions. The tags transmit information to the hospital's existing Wi-Fi network. The medical center is using AeroScout's MobileView software platform to manage RFID data, interpret each tag's location and display that location information on a map of the facility.

While temperature and asset tracking have become somewhat commonplace in the health-care industry, Tift Regional Medical Center has begun using the RTLS for more innovative solutions as well: to determine the location of crash carts carrying medication and equipment throughout the hospital's departments, and to track paper documents of high importance that must pass through numerous hands within the facility, to be reviewed or signed.

Initially, says Wade Brewer, Tift Regional Medical Center's director of technology infrastructure services, the hospital sought a system to relieve nurses of the task of manually checking temperatures within refrigerators. At the same time, Brewer says, he was also interested in procuring an asset-tracking solution to reduce the time spent by staff members searching for equipment on three floors and in multiple buildings within the 300,000-square-foot facility. Nine of those buildings already had a network of Wi-Fi access points in place, which the medical center determined it could leverage for an RTLS solution. The hospital management opted to combine the two technologies, and spoke with its Wi-Fi-network vendor, AT&T, which recommended an AeroScout RTLS for both challenges. To date, the tags are being utilized in six of the nine buildings.

In early 2010, Tift Regional Medical Center attached approximately 50 T5 tags to coolers, placing a temperature probe wired to each tag inside every unit. Hospital employees also affixed tags to some of its infusion pumps and other high-value equipment, in order to determine whether they could be used to accurately track those items' locations. The tags transmit their ID numbers, as well as temperature data (in the case of cooler tags), and the Wi-Fi nodes receive those 2.4 GHz signals and forward that information to the Mobile View software residing on the hospital's back-end system.

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