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Gentag and AHC Debut NFC RFID Solution for North American Home Health Aides

The two companies are launching a product that includes a specially built cell phone and software that enables workers to chronicle their patient visits via system already in use the United Kingdom.
By Claire Swedberg

This approach, however, has had its shortcomings. For instance, some clients do not want a worker to use their landline phones, due to concerns regarding toll costs. What's more, fewer clients actually have landlines in their homes these days, since a growing number depend solely on cell phones. What's more, the process of dialing out on a client's phone twice per visit was time-consuming. Therefore, AHS developed a solution that works with an NFC phone.

With an NFC tag attached to a wall inside a patient's home, and an NFC reader built into a health aide's handset, the aide could simply tap the phone near the tag upon beginning and completing a visit, and AHC's iConnect software on the phone would transmit that information, along with the tag's unique ID number, to the iConnect data-management software running on the user's back-end system. For example, AHC has provided home health-care companies with its StaffPlan Roster software system since 2007. The roster software indicates to workers which clients should be visited, and also tracks when those visits occur, based on staff reports. With iConnect, such reports can be made via NFC.

With the AHC-Gentag solution, each Bluebird health aide is issued a Gentag GT-602v2 cell phone, which comes with a built-in 13.56 MHz reader based on NXP Semiconductors' PN544 chip. This enables the phone to read passive 13.56 MHz tags compliant with the ISO 15693 and 14443 standards. The handset also comes with a camera, as well as Bluetooth and USB connectivity for synchronizing data.

Each Bluebird home health aide also carries an ID card containing an NFC RFID inlay—for an additional fee, AHC offers such cards as part of the iConnect solution—encoded with an ID number linked to that individual's identity in the iConnect software running on the user's back-end system. When making a home visit, the aide taps the phone's reader against the ID card, as well as against an NFC RFID tag mounted on a wall of the home (if requested, AHC also provides the home tags for an additional fee). Both ID numbers are forwarded to the back-end iConnect software, thus indicating where the worker is located. The iConnect software then pulls data from the roster software, in order to present the worker with a list (displayed on his or her phone) of tasks for that location, such as medications that individual should take, bathing or other services required, or food he or she should be eating.

Upon leaving the home, the worker again taps his or her phone against the tag, and responds to a dropdown menu by selecting prompts indicating the services provided. The aide can also utilize the handset to make a call or send a text message in order to report an exception, such as when a patient will not allow the worker inside the home, or if he or she notices a change in the client's health that should be addressed or merely watched. The aide can also take pictures—for example, if a patient has a wound for which the healing process needs to be chronicled.

Future versions of the iConnect software, AHC reports, will enable users to take advantage of geomapping that would allow them to identify where they are (via cell tower triangulation data supported by the iConnect software), and thus pinpoint the next client's address and obtain directions to that location. The software could also identify where an individual worker is, and thereby determine if, for example, he or she could respond to a last-minute call in the neighborhood.

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