UPMC deploys Wi-Fi-based RFID

Technology will leverage UPMC’s standard Wi-Fi network
By Mike Miliard
10:51 AM

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has implemented RFID technology to automate temperature monitoring at UPMC St. Margaret Hospital, and it will soon roll out wireless monitoring and asset tracking across most of its U.S. hospitals.

Officials say UPMC will deploy AeroScout’s Healthcare Visibility Solutions, which use advanced radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that will leverage UPMC’s standard Wi-Fi network to avoid the purchase, installation and maintenance of a proprietary RFID network.

[See also: RFID adoption poised for ‘huge’ growth.]

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After researching real-time location systems (RTLS) for several years, UPMC decided to use a Wi-Fi-based solution to leverage the investment in its Wi-Fi network and the related expertise it had developed, officials say. AeroScout technology can use low frequency and ultrasound for additional use cases such as par level management, and offers integration capabilities to allow other UPMC software providers to utilize location and condition information, for instance, temperature readings, for specific clinical and operational applications.

"After our extensive testing and due diligence, it was clear to us that Wi-Fi-based healthcare visibility solutions were not only the best model for our health system, but also the standard that would prevail industry-wide because of the important advantages they offer over proprietary systems," said James Venturella, CIO, Physician and Hospital Services at UPMC. "By using our existing Wi-Fi infrastructure, the AeroScout solutions are easier to deploy, allowing us to see the associated productivity and patient care benefits more quickly."

[See also: UPMC puts IT to work on supply chain.]

The asset management technology enables UPMC staff to track the location of critical medical equipment throughout its facilities, ensuring that it's at the right place at the right time and eliminating the need to manually search for items.

UPMC uses the temperature monitoring solution to automatically and wirelessly monitor the temperature of refrigerators and freezers, helping prevent spoilage of medicines, vaccines and even food. Both applications free up a significant amount of time so that staff can focus on caring for patients, officials say.

Following the success of its current implementation, UPMC plans to extend the technology. It will use AeroScout when it introduces a SmartRoom system at its new UPMC East hospital in Monroeville, which is scheduled to open this summer. Officials say the SmartRoom will use RTLS to identify caregivers as they walk into a patient’s room and provide clinicians with real-time, relevant information at the patient’s bedside.