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Wi-Fi RFID System for Long-Term Care

A solution from eHealth promises to help nursing homes protect patients by continually monitoring their locations.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jun 01, 2006To help nursing homes and other facilities protect patients and monitor their whereabouts, New York, N.Y.-based eHealth Solutions is adding RFID technology to its SigmaCare suite of mobile point-of-care solutions for physician practices and long-term-care facilities.

The new SigmaCare RFID Solution can be used in conjunction with the Wi-Fi-enabled SigmaCare system. The SigmaCare system allows staff to capture and access patient and clinical data at the point of care using PDAs and other handheld electronic devices.

Steve Pacicco, eHealth Solutions' CEO
The RFID Solution includes location-tracking software, Wi-Fi access points and wristbands equipped with active Wi-Fi 2.45 GHz RFID tags. The location-tracking software integrates with the SigmaCare software to alert users when a resident enters or leaves a particular zone, remains motionless for a period of time or attempts to leave the premises. It also allows staff to locate resident at any time. The core of the location-tracking software, PanOS Platform and PanGo Locator, and the wristbands equipped active RFID tags, are supplied by PanGo Networks, a Framingham, Mass. provider of wireless location-based systems.

The SigmaCare system tracks the movement of the tags, which are encoded with unique ID numbers. These numbers are matched with individual patient records in the SigmaCare system, allowing administrators to set specific rules and parameters for each patient. The tags communicate with Wi-Fi access points deployed at the facility. Through the use of a patented locator process utilized by PanGo, the location-tracking software determines each tag's position, based on an access point's location, facility construction and signal strength.The RFID tag transmits a unique identifier at frequent intervals when motion begins (to prolong its battery life, the tag goes dormant while motionless). The combination of the Wi-Fi access point and the software allows personnel to track tag movement.

Some patients have more freedom to move about than others, and the system can be set to understand those differences. "Nursing homes can make the tags resident-specific, because different residents have different limitations. We'll sit down with a nursing home administrator, look at drawings of the facilities, and define, resident by resident, the specific facilities, wings, etc., that are off-limits or restricted," says Steve Pacicco, eHealth Solutions' CEO.

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