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RFID News Roundup

Veterans Affairs issues final RFP for RTLS to cover all VA hospitals, clinics; Colombia Container Terminal puts RFID on track; Hyatt Regency New Orleans keys up RFID for convenience and security.
Jan 12, 2012The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Veterans Affairs Issues Final RFP for RTLS to Cover All VA Hospitals, Clinics
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair (VA) issued the final request for proposal this month for $550 million for a real-time location system (RTLS) solution. The VA's Technology Acquisition Center (TAC) plans to award an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) firm-fixed price contract. By using RTLS equipment—which may include Wi-Fi-based and other active or passive RFID tags, tags that emit ultrasound and infrared signals, and those utilizing ZigBee technology—the VA hopes to improve operations and business processes across its 21 Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISNs). All told, the RTLS will cover 152 medical centers, 1,400 community clinics, seven Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacies (CMOPs) and a variety of non-patient facilities, such as cemeteries and offices. The VA wants to deploy a single turnkey solution throughout, with a single contractor and its partners delivering the complete solution. The proposed solution should include hardware, software, documentation and incidental services, such as training, warranty and maintenance services, and technical engineering services (TES).

Details regarding the RFP were first unveiled at a VA Industry Day event, held on Nov. 8 at the VA Technology Acquisition Center (TAC), located in Austin, Texas (see U.S. Veterans Department Announces RFP for Nationwide RTLS Solution). At that time, VA representatives discussed four specific use cases: asset management, temperature tracking, supply chain management and sterilization process flow management, all of which are designed to contribute to the agency's initiative for greater efficiency, particularly in the area of health care.

The Performance Work Statement (PWS)—published by the VA as part of the RFP—spells out several additional applications. For example, the agency wants to employ the solution to track patients from the moment they arrive to their time of discharge. The RTLS needs to be configurable so that security levels can be set based on risk. The PWS notes, for instance, that some patients (those deemed high-risk) may be confined to their rooms, while others (those considered low-risk) may have a more relaxed restriction and only be confined to a specific ward or floor. The PWS specifies that the system be capable of sending a signal to a door-management system, if available at the individual facility, to allow the enabling and disabling of locks, as well as audible alarm systems, when a particular patient has come within a defined distance of exiting the ward.

The VA also wants the system to provide nurses with patients' location information, and to monitor staff members via mapping and tracking features. The PWS requests that the RTLS be able to generate messages regarding events, and send them to external notification systems, for delivery to such devices as pagers, cell phones or in-house wireless communication devices, as well as to other computer systems. In addition, the agency is requesting that employees' tags have one or more programmable buttons enabling those workers to activate a "panic" alarm from their tag so that an alert can be issued from the RTLS to the facility's communication or security system.

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