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Palmetto Health Extends RTLS to New Facility

The South Carolina health-care provider now uses a centralized Ekahau Wi-Fi-based solution to track the locations of assets at four of its hospitals.
By Claire Swedberg

The hospital wanted not only to track the location of equipment (to reduce personnel search times), but also to know when a piece of medical equipment left a specific area (to thwart theft). The software could also send a text message to authorized parties when equipment was ready for maintenance, based on its location, such as its removal from a patient room. While Ekahau can install infrared (IR) sensors to further pinpoint a tag's location, Norris says, Palmetto Health chose not to not install them. In this case, the designation of zones on the building's floor plan in the Vision software makes it possible to identify when a person or piece of equipment enters or leaves a specific area, thereby enabling the hospital to detect if an unauthorized event is taking place.

After the RTLS technology was installed and in full operation at Richland Hospital, Palmetto expanded the system to include its Children and Heart hospitals, located on the same campus. Simultaneously, the organization was transitioning to a Cisco CCX Wi-Fi network using Cisco's Mobility Services Engine, which now covers all buildings within the Palmetto Health organization. "As upgrades were completed to move the WLAN to a controller-based solution," Norris explains, "we gradually phased tags in." These tags followed the CCX protocol and eventually, as it was installed, the Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE) application programming interface (API).

The Ekahau Vision software is now installed on the health-care provider's central server at its Palmetto Network Operations Center.

To date, the hospital has reported to Ekahau that the technology has reduced the amount of time employees spend searching for equipment, freeing them up to provide services to patients. Moreover, the company reports, the medical center has indicated that its shrinkage rate has been reduced.

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