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Butler Hospital Uses RFID Linked to Voice-Over-IP

The Pennsylvania facility is utilizing a Wi-Fi-based real-time location system integrated with a nurse call solution, allowing it to share patient location data with visitors and staff members.
By Claire Swedberg
The location data is also displayed on video monitors installed in waiting areas on three of the tower floors. In this case, the patient's ID number is displayed, but not his or her name, in order to protect that individual's privacy. The hospital also installed video monitors at nursing stations that list the same information, along with the operations schedule for that day.

The benefits for patients and their loved ones is the greater mobility that the Ekahau badge provides. Without the system, visitors may feel obligated to remain close to the OR to receive updates about the patient's status. But with the badge, visitors can instead walk throughout the hospital, visit the cafeteria or stroll the street outside, as long as they remain within range of a Wi-Fi node.

Intelligent InSites' Carol Tweten
The asset-tracking system uses Ekahau T301A tags that employ Wi-Fi technology only, without infrared sensors. The hospital has attached the tags to high-value items that often end up missing, such as infusion pumps and glucose monitors. A T301A tag is attached to each asset, and beacons its own ID number at preset intervals.

The InSites software allows employees to log into the system and view a map of the hospital, with icons indicating where each item is located. Approximately 200 tags have been applied to assets, and Oleson says more will be tagged in the future. Although Butler has yet to measure the system's benefits, Oleson says staff members have told him that it has prevented equipment shortages often resulting from workers "hoarding" devices to ensure they are available when needed, thereby making them difficult to locate.

The temperature-monitoring Ekahau T301t tags come with temperature sensors, Rutanen says, and are used within coolers and warmers to provide regular temperature readings, as well as alerts in the event that a temperature falls outside the acceptable threshold. Prior to the system's installation, Oleson notes, employees manually checked thermometers on appliances on an hourly basis. With the Ekahau system, he estimates, the hospital saves approximately 60 hours of time in which the staff previously checked and recorded temperatures—time that they can now use to provide health-care services to patients.

The integrated RTLS and VoIP solution is working well, Tweten says, adding, "We did a lot of planning up front, and Butler had a very good training program in place."

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