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RTLS to Aid Geisinger's Hospitals in Tracking Assets

The Pennsylvania organization's two largest facilities are installing TeleTracking Technologies software and CenTrak hardware to help staff more easily locate equipment, as well as reduce logistics and inventory costs.
By Claire Swedberg
"This challenge presented us with an opportunity," Capatch says, so the selection committee used the event to accelerate the support of its project "to ensure the efforts needed to manage this task—when you don't know how much equipment you have, or, for that matter, even where it is located—never had to happen again."

RTLS technology was continuing to evolve, Capatch explains, so that each time the committee thought about deciding on a particular solution, another one offering better functionality would be announced, thereby delaying the selection process.

According to Capatch, the selection committee was not interested in TeleTracking's original RTLS solution. In 2009, TeleTracking had acquired RadarFind, a company that marketed an RTLS employing active 902 to 928 MHz ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags (see RFID News Roundup: TeleTracking Technologies Acquires RTLS Provider RadarFind), but the Geisinger committee determined that using RFID alone would not provide the required room- and bay-level accuracy. TeleTracking persisted, assuring committee members that its next-generation infrared (IR) RTLS product would be worth the look, says Jon Poshywak, TeleTracking Technologies' managing director of RTLS workflow services.

TeleTracking came back to the team with the IR and RFID hybrid RTLS solution that it had begun marketing, through a partnership with CenTrak (see RFID News Roundup: TeleTracking Announces Availability of Its Next-Gen RTLS). The solution consists of CenTrak's IR-RFID battery tags attached to assets and worn by patients in the form of wristbands. The tags are used in conjunction with CenTrak's Gen 2 IR beacons and RFID collectors (readers). First, a beacon floods the room with infrared waves. If a tag enters that area, it receives the beacon's IR transmission and transmits its own unique identifier to the collectors, along with the beacon's identifier, via active 900 MHz RFID. TeleTracking's software receives that data, determines the tag's location and provides the information to the asset- or patient-management software.

The Geisinger team liked the hybrid solution, Capatch says, and the fact that the technology would not be using the Wi-Fi system to transmit data. The system now being installed at GMC and GWV will include TeleTracking's asset-management and mapping software, interfacing with Geisinger's existing bed-management software.

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