RFID goes to hospital

As part of a pilot project at the Jacobi Medical Center in New York, more than 200 patients are wearing RFID enabled wristbands that allow their patient records to be accessed wherever they might be in the hospital.

If you thought that RFID tagging was only useful in industrial applications, think again.

As part of a pilot project at the Jacobi Medical Center in New York, Siemens Business Services has provided more than 200 patients with wristbands that carry a small embedded RFID device to enable their patient records to be accessed wherever they might be in the hospital.

The RFID chip itself contains a web address to a database on a central computer where information specific to each patient is stored. Once the address in the chip is scanned by an appropriate device, doctors can gain access to the database via a WLAN, from which they can then download all the information onto a PDA or tablet PC.

In addition to the wristband, Siemens is also developing a RFID watch that transmits information about a wearer’s location and heart frequency. To enable the position of a patient to be determined within two metres, numerous small antennae are to be set up throughout the medical centre.

In use, patients wear a sensor on their chests that measures their heartbeat. The information is then sent to the watch via a wireless network which transmits the heart data and the patient’s location to the doctor.

If the patient’s condition should worsen during a walk through the hospital, the medical personnel immediately know his or her location and can quickly take action. As a result, high-risk patients are always effectively under medical supervision, even when outside their hospital rooms.

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