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Purple Deck Media announces NFC system compatible with Apple products; Talkin' Things releases NFC smart packaging for iPhone, Android; Quad Industries, Agfa, Imec, TNO demo plastic 12-bit RFID tag and readout system with screen-printed circuitry; GE Healthcare, Zebra Technologies bring BLE wireless asset-tracking technology to hospitals; Versus Technology offers RTLS for BLE wayfinding.
By Rich Handley

GE Healthcare, Zebra Technologies Bring BLE Wireless Asset-Tracking Technology to Hospitals

GE Healthcare has introduced its Encompass solution, designed to help hospitals manage mobile asset inventories, reduce cost of ownership and achieve better capital allocation. It enables health-care providers to find critical mobile assets in real time so that they can spend less time searching for equipment and more time focused on providing quality patient care.

During the past 15 years, real-time location systems (RTLSs) have been proven to help hospitals improve the management of critical mobile clinical assets, and to save millions of dollars in capital and maintenance costs. However, significant obstacles around the implementation of traditional RTLS solutions, including large capital expenditures and long, disruptive deployment programs, have limited its market penetration to just 15 to 20 percent.

Encompass helps facilities enable better patient care, operational efficiency and financial performance, according to the ompany. The system is built upon open standards and commercial Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless technology that leverages a hospital's existing Wi-Fi network. It can be installed within a matter of days, and without opening ceilings or a need to drill into walls to run cable. The capital and installation cost is up to 60 percent lower than for cabled RTLS solutions, the firm reports, and there is no requirement for separate, dedicated onsite application and database servers for the hospital to maintain, and no dedicated software to update.

The applications can be provided as a subscription service. The system can be scaled to accommodate growth, and can be reconfigured if hospital layouts are redesigned or repurposed. As a cloud-based application, the system is accessible by any authorized staff member and from any computer or mobile device with internet access.

"Zebra is pleased to collaborate with GE Healthcare as we see transformative value from this innovative, practical, and easy-to-implement solution," said Chris Sullivan, Zebra Technologies' global health-care practice lead, in a prepared statement. "With Enterprise Asset Intelligence built by real-time visibility, clinicians now have reduced operational distractions and a greater ability to maximize their focus on patient care. This is a good thing for all of us, and contributes to a higher-quality, lower-cost patient care environment."

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