Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location™ in healthcare environments
December 17, 2018 by Matt Pekarske, GE Healthcare
Location determination through Wi-Fi® enables better patient care
In a typical healthcare setting, there are many individuals that can benefit from accurate location determination technology. Patient care providers ranging from doctors, nurses, biomedical engineers, and various other support functions—along with patients and their families—all cycle in and out of the healthcare facility throughout the course of a day. Each person has or is responsible for numerous medical and non-medical devices. Since Wi-Fi® is already ubiquitous in healthcare facilities, it is natural for these devices to connect to the facility IT infrastructure to perform their desired function, whether it is staying in touch with loved ones, passing the time between procedures, measuring patient vitals during a care event, or sending patient data to an Electronic Medical Record (EMR).
The applications for accurate Wi-Fi location determination within healthcare are numerous. Loss prevention can notify biomedical engineers when a small medical device is about to accidentally be thrown in the trash or wrapped up in a bundle of soiled laundry. Asset tracking can help clinicians determine exactly where a needed medical device is, rather than searching room to room. Tracking care providers throughout their shift can help identify workflow efficiency improvements. Accurately locating patients can help emergency responders find a patient experiencing a sudden adverse event. All of these examples can be realized with the combination of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location™ access points (APs) and devices without the need and added expense of a secondary infrastructure.
Consider the following example:
In a large healthcare facility, a patient in the Step-Down (low acuity) Unit is being monitored remotely at a nurse’s station for life-threatening arrhythmia events using a Wi-Fi enabled wearable medical device with integrated Wi-Fi Location™ capability. For real-time emergency situations, healthcare facilities utilize a “crash cart” that contains tools and other life-saving capabilities. The crash cart is also integrated with Wi-Fi Location.
As part of the doctor’s prescribed care, the patient is asked to walk twice a day for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. During one of those walks, the patient arrives at a central location where other patients and their family members congregate, such as a ward waiting room or cafeteria. Shortly after sitting down, the patient experiences a critical arrhythmia event requiring immediate clinical intervention. At the nurse’s station:
- An alarm sounds indicating the patient’s critical condition
- The patient’s location, accurate to within 1 meter, is highlighted on a separate map display running a location tracking application
- The location of the crash cart, accurate to within 1 meter, is also highlighted on the same map
Since the clinical devices in this healthcare facility are certified for Wi-Fi Location, the clinician has high confidence in the accuracy of the location provided. He or she notifies the clinician nearest to the crash cart, asks them to retrieve it, and promptly proceeds to the area the patient is located to administer life-saving care.
The value of Wi-Fi Location in a healthcare setting even goes beyond improved clinical efficacy and enhanced patient safety. Cost savings can also be realized by not spending limited capital on a secondary infrastructure and on additional medical devices lost or misplaced during normal use.
Matt is currently a Principal Connectivity and Wireless Engineer working on integrating wireless and wired networking technologies into medical devices for GE Healthcare. He is involved with several wireless healthcare industry efforts including influencing US and foreign regulatory policy on the use of wireless in healthcare, a vice-chair position with the Wi-Fi Alliance Healthcare Marketing Task Group, a participant on the IEC/ISO 80001 Wireless Guidance Technical Report, a participant on the AAMI Wireless Strategic Task Force and a member of the ANSI C63.27 Evaluation of Wireless Coexistence standard development group.