Winning at smarter healthcare with Track and Monitor

June 19, 2019

Person looking telstra app on their phone

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We’re on a mission to make life better for every Australian through amazing technology and connectivity. That’s why we’re proud of our indoor equipment tracking proof of concept using Track and Monitor, which has just won the 2019 IoT Festival Award for best healthcare project.

Ballarat Health Services and Coregas, a division of the Wesfarmers Group, encountered a complex problem that we thought we could offer some valuable expertise to: how do you stop vital healthcare equipment from going missing? Together with our partners, we worked to ensure that valuable and specialised equipment was never out of reach, so that caregivers could spend more time doing exactly that: giving care.

Any hospital is a big place, where gear is constantly moved around to support the care and healing of different patients. Knowing where that equipment is – such as wheelchairs and bariatric care beds – is vital to not only providing care, but it’s also incredibly important from an accounting perspective. If a hospital can’t provide a clear chain of custody for this crucial equipment, it may need to be replaced before its serviceable life is over – especially if it is lost altogether!

We knew we could help make life easier for healthcare providers and their patients with our technology solutions, and got to work putting the power of our low-cost, scalable Track and Monitor platform to the problem.

Track and Monitor, the system powering our Wi-Fi-enabled location monitoring devices, was customised and attached to 20 pieces of various medical equipment, including specialist bariatric care beds and patient telemetry devices.

Working together with BHS and Coregas, our implementation used the hospital’s existing Wi-Fi infrastructure and layout to build a tracking system that would allow healthcare professionals to discover the location of any key equipment down to a range of 10 metres (line-of-sight). The trial tracking device – about the size of a 50-cent coin – is powered by a rechargeable battery, and sends a signal when it moves.

This can easily be traced wherever the Ballarat Health Services base hospital has Wi-Fi coverage. The tag uploads information on its whereabouts when it can connect to the BHS Wi-Fi SSID, calling every 10 minutes when in motion and every 12 hours when stationary to conserve battery life.

The Track and Monitor platform estimates each tag’s location (including which floor of the hospital) based on the data the tags send and stores it. The web portal, featuring a schematic map of the hospital, makes it possible to visualise and pinpoint the equipment’s whereabouts whenever queried by a user. The portal displays the last known location of the tag through intuitive tag-based search functionality.

Medical and asset tracking systems already exist for such requirements, but what made our deployment special was the ease of installation and the relative low cost of deployment. Typically, asset tracking systems can be expensive for technology that’s difficult to install and hard to keep operating long-term due to inefficient batteries.

Telstra Track and Monitor has delivered the potential to not only save the hospital money, but also save it precious time that could be spent treating patients instead. By ensuring essential equipment was in the right place at the right time, BHS found significant benefits in the product and potential to not only save dollars, but thousands of hours in lost time searching for equipment.

Looking to the future, BHS can also use the capabilities of Telstra’s wider finding network to track items outside the hospital. This means they’ll know when emergency equipment is taken in an ambulance to another hospital or a wheelchair is in use offsite. We’re honoured that our partnership with BHS and Coregas has been recognised at the IoT Festival. We know that there is huge potential for technology to enrich the lives of patients and their carers in Australia’s healthcare industry. We look forward to developing this technology with our partners more in the future.