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RFID News Roundup

AmerisourceBergen launches RFID-enabled medications packaging system ••• Scientists use Microsensys RFID technology to study pesticides' effects on bumblebees ••• EasyJet trials Estimote Bluetooth beacons at three European airports ••• Palos Community Hospital puts Versus RTLS in its operating rooms ••• PINC announces next-generation enterprise yard-management solution ••• Toshiba announces new RFID chip compliant with NFC Forum Type 3 specification ••• Trimble intros Apple iOS support in ThingMagic Mercury API.
By Beth Bacheldor

EasyJet Trials Estimote Bluetooth Beacons at Three European Airports

easyJet app
European airline operator EasyJet, which flies more than 600 routes across more than 30 countries with a fleet of 200 Airbus aircraft, has begun testing Bluetooth Beacons to trigger alerts and notifications to passengers' mobile phones during their airport journey. The trial is being conducted at London Luton, London Gatwick and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports. The beacons, provided by Estimote, are indoor proximity tags that utilize Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to transmit signals to trigger actions on smartphones or other BLE-enabled devices.

EasyJet says its trial currently supports only Apple iPhones, in conjunction with easyJet's iOS app, available for download from Apple's iTunes store. However, the airline will review the possibility of adding other mobile phones as the trial progresses. The beacons are activated to send notifications as passengers approach the bag-drop and security areas, and the notifications prompt them to open their boarding pass at the proper time so that it is ready to be scanned, as well as advising when passports need to be presented.

Palos Community Hospital Puts Versus RTLS in Its Operating Rooms

Palos Community Hospital, a health-care provider servicing Chicago's southwest suburbs, has extended its use of Versus Technology's real-time locating system (RTLS), a solution that combines readers, badges and tags for tracking individuals and assets. The hospital is now using Versus' Advantages OR patient-flow system to track surgical patients in its 12 OR procedure rooms.

The solution tracks patients from pre-op all the way to post-op, and that data is shared with nurses and doctors, as well as with loved ones in the hospital waiting rooms. The system uses infrared (IR) signals, as well as RFID as a backup solution, in the event that the IR signal is blocked or not operating properly. When a tag's IR signal, emitted every three seconds, is received by the IR reader at a particular location, the interrogator transmits its own ID number, along with that of the tag, to the Versus software. In the event that the IR signal is not being received (if, for instance, a blanket is covering the tag and its infrared beacon), the RFID system will provide a backup by emitting a 433 MHz RFID signal—which also beacons every three seconds—using a proprietary air-interface protocol. The tags and badges communicate with Versus' wireless, battery-powered V-Link sensors (readers).

At the hospital, both patients and personnel wear a Versus Clearview badge to identify their locations; the location information, along with integrated data from Palos' Meditech EMR, is relayed to the Advantages software. The technology gives Palos real-time visibility of patient locations and status (waiting for anesthesia, in surgery and so forth), delivers prompts so staff members know where to go next (patient ready for surgeon, room ready for turnover, etc.), and provides passive data collection for historical reporting to help with process-improvement initiatives.

"Anesthesiologists can use the system to easily locate a patient to conduct a pre-consultation, for example," says Matthew Schmidt, Versus' national sales director. "Patient numbers can be published to a screen in a waiting room so family can track the patient's progress."

According to Versus, the RTLS is helping Palos Community Hospital ensure that staff and patient interactions occur in the correct order and in a timely manner, and can ultimately help improve the flow and care of patients through surgery. The Advantages OR solution was added to the hospital's existing Versus RTLS, which was installed to track 1,400 IV pumps across a span of 400,000 square feet. The solution helps reduce loss, tracks utilization and helps ensure that each department is properly stocked with ready-to-use pumps, Versus reports.

The RTLS also automates Rauland-Borg's Responder 5 nurse-call system for the hospital. When a patient calls the nurse for assistance, the Clearview badge identifies her presence in the room, automatically canceling the call. This allows the nurse to immediately focus on the patient instead of searching for the cancel button. Interstate Electronics Co., a 10-year veteran Versus systems integrator serving the Chicago area, installed and maintains both the Responder and Versus systems.

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