Tracking patients, charts and equipment in hospitals and across integrated health delivery networks is mostly done manually on white boards or manual entry within health information systems. Some health delivery networks have adopted systems using a combination of infrared and radio frequency (RF) technology to help manage the tracking process. This paper proposes an approach that can improve the operational efficiency of a health delivery network by automating this process through the use of RF identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags are low power communication devices that can be embedded in a patient's ID bracelet, inside a patient chart and medical equipment, and can help track their location and status
Most medical facilities practice managing the large numbers of seriously injured patients expected during catastrophic events. As the demands on the healthcare team increase, however, the challenges faced by managers escalate, workflow bottlenecks develop and system capacity decreases. iTrack Healthcare System, an integrated software–hardware system designed to enhance management of resources at a hospital during a mass casualty situation. System uses active 802.11b asset tags to track patients, equipment and staff during the response to a disaster. The system integrates tag position information with data from personnel databases, medical information systems, registration applications and other management systems. System includes interfaces for a hospital command center, local area managers (emergency room, operating suites, radiology, etc.) and registration personnel.
Towards Smart Hospital
As mentioned before, we aim to describe how the RFID technology can help in medical facilities and hospitals. Thus, this subsection describes an example RFID enhanced hospital, a smart hospital. To start with, many assets and actors of the facilities have to be tagged":
- The medical equipment must embed RFID tags. In the best case the tags should be placed into the devices by the manufacturer and should contain a standardized world-wide unique identifier.
- The doctors, nurses, caregivers and other sta® members wear a smart badge storing their employee ID number.
- On arrival, each patient receives a wristband with an embedded RFID tag storing a unique identifier, and some information about him (e.g. a digital picture, a unique patient code, etc.)
- All the patients' medical histories (aka paper medical files) and other important documents are tagged with self-adhesive RFID labels containing a unique number.
- The blister packs and other drugs' packages all contain RFID labels. These transponders should preferably be EPC compliant.
- The bags of blood are attached with a self-adhesive RFID label holding a unique identifier, the hospital tracking number and some important information about the contained type of blood.
Furthermore, RFID readers are placed at strategic places within the hospital
- RFID gates are disposed at entrances and exits of the hospital.
- Each operating theater contains a least one RFID reader.
- RFID sensors are placed in strategic galleries and important o±ces. In the best case, every office should contain an RFID reader: either placed next to the door or under the desks.
- The staff members (doctors, nurses, caregivers and other employees) each have a handheld (PDA, mobile phone, etc.) equipped with an RFID reader and possibly with a wireless (e.g. WiFi) connection to the web.
Eventually, while not mandatory for most use cases, EPC Network standards should be used as much as possible. This is especially true for the unique identifiers (EPC standard), the readers (Gen2 EPCGlobal standards) as well as for the application queries for authoritative information (PML and ONS standard).