The ability to track assets and people using RTLS has allowed healthcare organizations to automate complicated processes, increase efficiency and comply with regulatory agencies instantaneously. The development of hybrid systems that utilize ultrasound and infrared technologies in addition to WiFi and RFID has revolutionized the industry. Hospital administrators watch ROI’s skyrocket, patient satisfaction rates soar and efficiency flourishes.
Pennsylvania-based company CenTrak, a VIZZIA partner, introduced the first hybrid system in 2008, combining RFID and IR to create an accurate, affective tracking system. Since then, they’ve further enhanced their technology. CenTrak is now the only company to offer a patented system that combines RF with “Gen2IR,” a second-generation infrared transmitter.
HOW IT WORKS…
All hybrid solutions function similarly, combining the free-flowing, long-distance power of RFID or Wi-Fi with the bound-by-walls precision of either IR or ultrasound. Hybrid systems typically look something like this:
- Ultrasound or IR transmitters are mounted in patient rooms, equipment storage rooms and hallways.
- Tags are mounted on equipment and/or attached to staffers/patients
- At pre-determined intervals (typically every several seconds), ultrasound/IR devices transmit location information into the room in which they’re mounted.
- All tags located in that room receive location information, convert the information to RF or WiFi and submit it, along with their unique tag identification number, to RF or WiFi network devices positioned strategically throughout the hospital.
- From there, the information is transmitted to a server.
The “positive room identification” that ultrasound and infrared technology provides is a game changer. But many hospitals have open patient areas — such as ICU’s, PACU’s and Pre-Op’s — where only a curtain divides one patient from another. How, then, can RTLS determine for sure whether or not a nurse washed in when she entered a specific patient bay, for example?
CenTrak developed its “virtual walls” for this very reason. Virtual walls transmit directional IR light while also blocking IR light from flooding into the opposite direction. By affixing several virtual walls at the edges of patient bays, we are able to isolate one patient bay from another. This technology has infinite applications.