Bluetooth beacons help hospitals track equipment
Keeping track – in real time – of medical equipment assets such as ventilators and defibrillators has never been more vital. Sixgill has developed Sense Hospital Asset Orchestration to track portable equipment to save time when it needs to be delivered quickly. The Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) AC plug-in wireless hub and ‘stick on’ beacon asset tracking solution uses Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52832 SoC.
It tracks the location of assets within rooms and hallways using a technique based on Bluetooth LE beacon received signal strength indication (RSSI). All collated data is made available to hospital staff on a Sixgill-developed, cloud-based control panel. This graphically displays all tracked assets with colour-coded circles to show various status alerts (e.g. red to show assets that have been recently moved).
Sixgill says the rapid installation speed of its tracker is due to the simplicity of the drill- and screw-free design. This comprises two parts. First is AC plug-in wireless hubs based on a pass-through socket design. This is plugged into a single mains power socket in each room or hallway where asset tracking is required. Each one can cover a space of around 7.6 x 7.6m or 58m2 (25 x 25 feet or 625 feet2). The mains plugs have a Nordic nRF52832 installed to look and listen for Bluetooth LE beacons, and Wi-Fi to communicate to the cloud.
The stick-on Bluetooth LE beacons are attached to any asset the hospital would like to track. The nRF52832 SoC’s low power consumption means each beacon does not need to be recharged once installed. Its battery will last three to five years depending on the duty cycle. The Sense solution is scalable to support an unlimited number of Bluetooth LE beacons.
“Now a hospital is able to capture all asset information, transmit data and alerts as needed to appropriate staff, and reduce if not eliminate errors and delays when delivering critical assets to where they are needed,” says Joan Silver, VP of product marketing at Sixgill. “By collecting meaningful data and analysing it over time hospitals are also able to gain insights that optimise their operational and planning efficiencies. Our solution even supports [artificial intelligence] AI and machine learning to continuously improve a hospital’s understanding of its portable asset utilisation patterns to enable prediction of needs during both normal operations and emergency surges.
“Wireless ultra-low power consumption removes customer objections to extensive new wiring or incessant battery maintenance,” added Silver.