NEC announces wireless location tracking for medical devices, patients, and staff

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NEC Unified Solutions has enhanced its UNIVERGE Assured Mobility portfolio with location tracking. The Wi-Fi-based radio frequency identification (RFID) solution, highlighted at last week’s HIMSS07 in New Orleans, operates within NEC’s Wireless Optimized Architecture to accurately track the location of medical devices, patients and hospital staff, increasing workflow efficiency and reducing costs for healthcare organizations.

In addition, patients can alert doctors and nursing staff in critical situations through a remote call button at any point after admittance. The system also provides hospital staff with a record of where a patient was taken and the types of equipment used in their vicinity, allowing for improved billing efficiencies through location-based association.

Utilizing battery-powered, active RFID tags, NEC’s Location Tracking sends short 802.11b messages to strategically positioned Wi-Fi access points over an existing WLAN network. For enhanced security and productivity, location-based events (i.e., a patient entering an unauthorized zone or equipment requiring immediate delivery) automatically trigger alerts and notifications to administrators.

"Healthcare organizations demand reliable, cost -effective communications systems to address their unique challenges,” said Paul Lopez, general manager, Marketing and Services at NEC Unified Solutions. “NEC’s Location Tracking provides these organizations with the ability to keep track of patients and medical equipment using secure voice and data communications over a wireless infrastructure to dramatically enhance employee productivity, improve the level of patient care and streamline procedures to increase profitability."

As an additional benefit, the Location Tracking component does not affect throughput on the Wi-Fi network, saving bandwidth for other critical applications such as voice and data.