Given its proven record in asset tracking, active RFID and its RTLS (Real Time Tracking System) capabilities are gradually being adopted into more and more industries like healthcare. From tracking valuable medical tools and timely billing of medicine to improving clinical workflows, RFID technology has undoubtedly helped hospices enhance their service and realise gains in their bottom line. But apart from tracking hospital property and staff, RFID is also utilised in protecting high-risk patients, namely infants and patients with memory concerns like dementia. With RFID, hospices can monitor those patients and prevent unauthorised actions by locking doors and alerting staff members.
Tracking Vulnerable Patients in Real Time
Several hospitals are working with RFID companies to launch an RTLS-enabled RFID security solution that prevents abductions and accidental pairing of newborn babies at birthing centres and hospitals and monitors patients with memory and mental conditions in memory care centres and behavioural facilities. Using active RFID tags and exciters placed in elevators, doorways, and stairwells, healthcare facilities can get a real-time bird’s eye view of vulnerable patients and their locations.
In the case of protecting infants, remote security officers and hospital staff can get precise location information and real-time alerts regarding the movements of tagged babies into unsecured areas. Newborn babies can wear the tags in the form of umbilical tags or ankle bands that can detect tampering and hold their unique ID number linked to crucial information, such as their parents and other authorised personnel.
Suppose infant tags come within the range of exciters. In that case, the system can then capture the data and enable actions like allowing entry, preventing access, and notifying security, depending on the chosen configuration. Mothers and nurses also have the tags to determine if the infants are with authorised persons. Moreover, the system could detect which babies have entered secure areas and who they are with and be able to respond accordingly. For example, the infant’s mother and a specific nurse may be authorised for certain actions or locations, highlighting areas of concern.
Wander protection for mentally impaired patients
Meanwhile, patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be tracked in real-time within the facility with an RFID wander-protection solution. The patients can be tagged with wristbands encoded with their unique ID and information about their specific needs, which could mean the system ensures they can only roam within particular floors or areas and prevent them from leaving these areas for their safety. If patients were to get within range of the exciters to doors that would take them away from their safe area, they could be immediately locked and prompt an alert to caregivers to lead them back.
Besides managing entry and exit, the system can also be configured for various other actions specific to the hospice’s needs. For instance, staff could wear RFID-enabled badges that track their real-time location for improved workflow and allow them to request help in an emergency, such as the patients being uncooperative or violent.
Given the delicate nature of the service provided by hospices and the patients they manage, it is only vital to make improvements wherever possible to ensure they are always secure while under their care. Besides improving operational performance and uses such as RFID inventory management, RFID’s capabilities can also be extended to cover this need and to consider other capabilities which can be explored within the healthcare setting.