Special report: Stop equipment theft dead in its tracks

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Rapport spécial : Arrêtez les morts de vol d'équipement dans ses voies

par Carol Ko, Staff Writer | November 25, 2013
From the November 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Like stealing candy…
Hospitals are also making use of tracking technology to protect a rather unlikely asset: babies in the neonatal unit.

Baby stealing is extremely rare. Only 271 cases have been reported since 1983. But when it does happen, it makes national headlines, leaving the hospital in question open to liability — not to mention a huge PR nightmare.

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Stanley Healthcare created their Hugs system to address these concerns. When the baby is born, it’s fitted with a tag around the ankle that syncs with a system that alerts personnel when the tag may be leaving an authorized area, or comes into contact with the wrong mother.

In fact, the system was responsible for preventing an infant abduction just last year. A woman disguised in scrubs had somehow made her way into the hospital, sneaking in until she found a mother alone with her child. She convinced the mother to step away for a shower, and then tried to make off with the baby. “Our system was in place, and they caught her before she got to the door,” says Cook.

Such technology isn’t confined to protecting infants, either. Manufacturers are now creating automatic lock protection systems that are triggered when a piece of tagged equipment gets too close to a door. “This can easily be used with people, too. You could restrict access to an elevator or an exterior door or some area of danger where they shouldn’t be,” says Peck.

The latest locking security technology actually takes timing into account as well. “If I’m a psychiatric patient with an authorized handler, and two of us arrive within five seconds with each other, the door unlocks. If I arrive a minute before the authorized handler and it assumes that she’s chasing me, the door will lock,” says Cook. “On the other hand, if the system senses that too much time has elapsed after the authorized handler goes through the door, it will treat it as a hitchhike event and will lock.”

Seamless surveillance
Just because hospitals want to protect and secure their assets doesn’t mean they want to do it at the expense of convenience, however. “Hospitals are more and more looking to leverage their existing Wi-Fi infrastructure rather than putting in a new infrastructure,” says CenTrak’s Peck.

As tracking technologies become more common, they’re also becoming more integrated with security systems. “We’ve started to collaborate on security video analytics so that instead of looking through hours and hours of video, we can pinpoint the event exactly when it happened,” says Stanley’s Cook.

“There’s definitely a trend in trying to integrate RTLS systems with security systems — lots of organizations don’t have security folks at every exit, so they integrate it with the security system so they can alert somebody if someone is nearby,” says Carlene Anteau, vice president of product marketing at RTLS/RFID firm Awarepoint.

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