Wireless Systems Design

Wi-Fi And RFID Devices Unite To Help Hospitals

Wireless technology isn't new to the medical community. For years, doctors have been using laptops and PDAs with Wi-Fi connectivity to record patient records. In addition, many hospitals have experimented with various forms of wireless devices to monitor patient activity. A recent startup called Exavera Technologies has taken this wireless migration one step further. It just introduced a product line called eShepherd. This product line combines Wi-Fi and radio-frequency-identification (RFID) technologies. Together, these devices promise to monitor the locations and activities of patients while improving hospital workflow.

The eShepherd product line is a secure broadband-wireless, information-delivery system that's specifically designed for healthcare. It combines a high-speed Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11a/b/g) network with the company's Vera-T Series. This family of intelligent bracelets, staff badges, and asset tags is based on wireless RFID technology. By working with existing hospital information systems (HISs), eShepherd provides positive patient identification; the real-time location of patients, staff, and assets; and information delivery at the bedside point of care.

Unlike barcode-formatted patient bracelets, eShepherd's RFID bracelets contain a subset of the patient's electronic medical record. This critical information includes a photograph for positive identification. It also contains medical history, such as insurance information, vital signs, physician contact data, and current medications. In addition to this intelligence, the bracelet communicates automatically with the hospital's information system. This communication is done through the company's wireless-broadband premise router, thereby eliminating the need for scanning.

These capabilities help to make the flow of data transparent to both patients and caregivers. eShepherd works with a hospital's HIS and wireless input devices, such as PDAs, tablet PCs, and laptops. In doing so, it enables real-time, point-of-care read and write access to the information contained in both the bracelet and the hospital's database.

The company's secure broadband-wireless system also should minimize patient-identification errors. Such errors can compromise patient safety and increase hospital operating costs. The system also can immediately locate hospital assets like empty beds, wheelchairs, and IV pumps. This feature can potentially save thousands of dollars in operating costs.

By enabling paperless record management while ensuring the proper authorization of network users, eShepherd also helps hospitals meet the security and privacy regulations set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

Exavera Technologies, Inc.
195 New Hampshire Ave., Suite 155, Portsmouth, NH 03801; (603) 570-4000, FAX: (603) 570-4001, www.exavera.com.

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