Challenges of Smart Patient Tracking

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Smart patient tracking helps healthcare centers with improving services and driving better car. In the previous article, we covered the benefits of smart patient tracking. As we all know, where there are benefits, there are challenges as well. In this article, we focus on the challenges of patient tracking with combination of RFID and IoT to help hospitals get a better idea of what to expect from it.


Smart Patient Monitoring


RFID and IoT technologies can be combined to provide patient tracking in terms of tracking, data storing and analysis. Tracking patients in hospitals helps to upgrade security, identify, and address gaps in the internal processes, improve bed allocation, update doctors’ schedules, and increase patient satisfaction.


Each patient, upon arriving at the hospital, is given a bracelet with an RFID tag. Each tag features relevant patient information: ID, name, electronic medical record, allergies, current condition, test results, recommended medications and so on. As a patient moves around the hospital, readers placed on the walls and ceilings within the hospital and its surrounding territory receive the information about tags location and transfer it to the IoT cloud for processing and analysis. The analysis may be performed in real time, for example, to detect emergencies, and with historical data (e.g. health records) to identify bottlenecks in internal hospital processes and, correspondingly, treatment.


Upon discharge, the tag is collected and further reassigned to another patient.


Benefits of Smart Patient Monitoring

Before we move to the challenges of smart patient monitoring, lets quickly summarize the benefits of smart patient monitoring, especially, based on the combination of RFID and IoT. They are:

  • Improved monitoring of patients’ location

  • Driving patient safety

  • Better tracking of the treatment process

  • Enhancing internal schedules

  • Assessing and predicting patient flow


Challenges in adopting smart patient tracking


To ensure effective and secure smart patient tracking system, we need to address the below challenges and develop the solution to mitigate the challenges. The challenges are:


Ethical issues of tracking people

From an ethical perspective, RFID and IoT tracking is rather controversial innovation as it touches on the issues of confidentiality and may interfere with patients’ privacy. To address this concern, a hospital should set up tracking by mutual agreement with patients. In some cases, for e.g., with the elderly or patients with mental condition, all-the-time tracking should be agreed with a patient’s relatives and may even require signing a special contract.


Cybersecurity

Smart patient tracking implies dealing with protected health information (patient data, medical conditions, and so on). The solutions needs to HIPAA Compliant to ensure that every aspect of data handling is secure and encrypted. To add to this, every hospital personnel needs to be educated on how to use smart patient tracking securely so that they don’t create any data leaks.


The necessity to establish continuous patient tracking

Monitoring can be interrupted if a patient loses or throws away their tagged bracelet. An IoT system needs to be capable of revealing an unusual location of an RFID tag and informing responsible hospital personnel. Such situations are difficult to foresee and prevent, so hospital staff needs to deal with the situation as soon as the IoT system notifies them.


Conclusion


Smart patient tracking with this combination of RFID and IoT gives greater visibility into each patient’s location, improves patient safety, helps to identify the gaps in internal hospital processes and find the ways to cover these gaps. However, as we have seen, there are challenges that need to be addressed to make sure the solution is secure and reaps more benefits in long term as well. For this innovation to pay off, it should be implemented with care and consideration to make it convenient and safe for patients and doctors.


Regami solutions shall be able to help you with the physical device development, IOT architecture implementation, developing HIPAA compliant cloud/Web/mobile applications and so on.


Please feel free to get in touch with in case of any queries. We shall be glad to address them.




Regards

Hariharan Rajagopal

Regami Solutions