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Asset Tracking Underway at WakeMed Cary Hospital

The multi-facility operator launches an RFID system at its Cary hospital, with plans to expand to Raleigh and other locations.
By Claire Swedberg
RadarFind's active ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID transponders are attached to assets. The interrogators capture an RFID tag's signal, which includes its unique ID number, and transmits that data wirelessly over the 902-928 MHz RF band, to one of 15 collectors installed around the hospital. WakeMed Cary is not using the readers' ability to send the collected information via the facilities' power lines (employing the ANSI 709.1 protocol for power line data communications).

The interrogators calculate an item's location within several feet on the floor on which it is located, using a combination of signal strength and trade-secret technologies. In addition, the readers utilize wireless synchronous multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology, a communication technique employing multiple antennas to receive data from the tags and eliminate multipath interference, thereby enabling an item's location to be determined more accurately.

The collectors then transmit the unique ID number, time and location where they were read via an Ethernet cable to the server, located at and hosted by WakeMed but accessible by RadarFind through a virtual private network (VPN) for software updates and other services. RadarFind software translates that data and makes it available in a dashboard style, in which staff members can either type in the name of the item they are looking for, or click on a category and see a hospital map showing a dot pinpointing the item's exact location.

Each RadarFind asset tag also features a switch to indicate the asset's condition. When an asset has been cleaned and is available for use, a hospital employee slides a switch. This causes the tag to modulate its signal, signifying that the asset is ready for use, and its status is then displayed on the server.

WakeMed provided RadarFind with its facility's computer-aided design (CAD) drawings—a digital layout of the building, floor by floor—to create that virtual hospital in the server. The hospital is beginning with 250 tags to chronicle how well the service works in a limited setting for the first three months. Beyond that point, Schilder says, it intends to expand to additional items, and eventually to deploy the system at WakeMed Raleigh Campus.

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