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Bahrain's King Hamad University Hospital Adopts Comprehensive RFID and RTLS Solution

The system combines Wi-Fi RTLS with UHF and HF passive RFID technologies and wireless sensors on a single platform, to track patients, staff members, equipment, medications and temperatures within the new state-of-the-art facility.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 27, 2012When management at Bahrain's King Hamad University Hospital (KHUH) was considering technology alternatives for tracking assets, employees and patients, they had a number of choices available to them. These ranged from real-time location systems (RTLS) to passive RFID tags—all of which offered certain benefits, says Major Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, KHUH's CIO.

"We had identified RFID and RTLS as areas we wanted to explore," Al Khalifa recalls. "We found that the applicability of the technology is very vast." So while the hospital was initially interested in tracking assets, with the goal of reducing the number of labor hours that nurses spent searching for equipment, it decided it could also benefit by tracking patients, along with physicians and other workers.

Clockwise from top: a patient wristband with an embedded passive HF RFID tag and an Ekahau T301W tag; an Ekahau T301BD tag worn on a lanyard by the hospital's staff; an Omni-ID Ultra passive UHF tag for tracking pallets, large items and pharmaceutical carts; and an Ekahau T301A RFID tag for managing assets.

In addition, the facility wanted to track the maintenance of equipment and the administration of specific medications to patients, as well as confirm that medical goods being transported from a warehouse located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) away have arrived at the hospital on time, and that they have not been intercepted. RFID- and RTLS-related data would need to be integrated with the facility's Indra patient-management software, Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Lenel access-control system and Infor enterprise asset-management software.

As a result, KHUH opened in February 2012 with an extensive solution combining Ekahau's RTLS technology, Wi-Fi-based active RFID tags, passive high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, and a single software platform. The solution, provided by Bahrain systems integrator Azimuth Gulf and its offshore partner, MCT India, is designed to enable KHUH to track and manage patients, staff members, pharmaceuticals and assets, as well as the temperatures within refrigeration units.

The 311-bed, state-of-the-art hospital—constructed under a royal decree issued in 2010 to support members of the Bahrain Defense Force, as well as civilian patients—has been dubbed the most technologically advanced hospital in the Middle East. Its management decided to implement the system in pieces. Although the hardware infrastructure and software platform are now in place, Al Khalifa says, the facility is testing and launching each new functionality in a measured way, in order to allow the staff and management to fully understand every function without interfering with health-care operations.

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