Tracking Medical Equipment & Patients with Passive RFID

November 1, 2012 Tracy Hillstrom

A Speedway xPortal RFID reader in a hospital tracks medical equipment

Have you spotted Speedway xPortal readers in your hospital or healthcare facility yet? Look hard, they are designed to blend in, but more hospitals are turning to passive UHF RFID for asset and patient tracking, and the xPortal is a perfect fit!

Hospitals have many mobile assets that travel into rooms and throughout miles of corridors, so that finding them quickly can be a real challenge. Speedway xPortal RFID readers produce a strong, large read field using Impinj’s Dual-Linear Phased Array (DLPA) antenna technology, that when mounted overhead spans the wide corridors, reading tags no matter what their orientation. When you install Speedway xPortals in doorways and at regular intervals in the corridors, you can determine the last known location of an item by which reader most recently saw its tag. Then, using this information, you can dramatically reduce the time necessary to find the asset or patient.

Another technology being evaluated in many hospitals is Real-time Location Systems (RTLS) with WiFi. In simplest terms, this technology uses signal measurement and statistics received at multiple access points to triangulate a location of an item. At first blush, it seems an attractive investment given that most healthcare facilities have already deployed WiFi infrastructure, but our customers are quick to tell us that tag cost and concerns about battery maintenance caused them to look again at passive RFID.

Impinj Monza passive UHF RFID tags are available in a wide variety of forms from inlays to hard tags. They don’t require batteries, and come at a price that allows hospitals to consider tagging more than just the high-value assets. And passive RFID makes it feasible to monitor the location of expensive mobile medical equipment, wheelchairs, RFID-tracked files, mobile computers (enabling greater adherence with HIPAA regulations), laundry, linens and so much more. The technology can also ensure the safety of newborns, Alzheimer patients and others who need extra care. A Speedway xPortal-enabled tracking system allows for efficiencies in every department for a larger overall payback on the technology investment.

Speedway xPortal readers feature power over ethernet (PoE) and compliance with VESA standards for the most inexpensive mounting solutions, so installation is fast and simple. Moreover, the equipment and installation can pay for itself once the hospital analyzes how much additional equipment they are buying to compensate for the fact that they can’t find what they already have. Do you really need that 12th portable ultrasound with the ongoing maintenance and consumable expense, or will 10 of them work if you can quickly find them?

In the end, Speedway xPortal-based RFID systems solve the problem of “find-ability” with the greatest value and payback on the investment. This is why more IT professionals in healthcare are evaluating and deploying passive UHF RFID solutions and finding xPortal to be just what the doctor ordered!

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