High-tech hospital

Staff Writer
01 Jul 2008


Macroview provides its applications platform to support new apps, and CTM provides the project management and service support via a dedicated team.

The network also features a centralized database to store all of the medical data that hospital staff need to access - such as patient data, PET scans and medication instructions. The database servers are clustered as a redundancy measure, says PH Tang, CTO at Macroview Telecom.

"One of the advantages of this sort of clustering technology is you can build two data centers that are geographically separated, but you still have a single cluster image," says Tang. "And with that in place, you can do things like data replication from one side to the other side, data synchronization."

Wireless flexibility

The wireless layer of the network comprises a centralized wireless LAN controller and 180 so-called thin-access 802.11a/b/g access points covering the 14 floors of the center. The APs are backhauled (and powered) by PoE, and are deployed under an RF plan that provides for signal overlapping. That not only allows for handoff of Wi-Fi devices as staff roam the hospital floors, but also provides redundancy in case an AP fails, Tang says.

The chief function of the wireless access is, of course, to untether staff from desks and nurse stations. Armed with Wi-Fi phones and other devices, staff will be able to make voice calls (including functions like push-to-talk) and access data and video over the wireless links.
The wireless system also supports tracking applications via Active RFID, says Tang.

"You have some very specialized equipment inside the hospital that gets moved around where it is needed, but after they are used, they get left behind in some location," he explains. "If you want to find that particular piece of equipment it is hard to track. But you can use this wireless LAN to track the equipment's location with Active RFID, which uses the 2.4-GHz frequency instead of the normal RFID frequency. So we can use the APs to triangulate and calculate the location of the RFID tag."

The same location-based capability can also be used for other apps, such as an electronic article surveillance (EAS) system that can track, for example, safety tags on newborn babies. "The basic idea of EAS would be if someone removed a baby out of the newborn room, for whatever reason, the tag would trigger an alarm and send a voice call or message to various locations," says Tang. "But with current systems, you would be alerted when a baby was removed, but you wouldn't be able to track its actual location. You're only alerted to the event. With Active RFID, you can also know where the baby is."

The EAS system can also be combined with other apps on the IP network, Tang adds.
"For example, in our proof-of-concept, we showed that we can control the CCTV system over the IP network, and we can automatically zoom in on the location where the alarm goes off, so you can keep video surveillance on that particular incident," he says. "When people follow up they can easily retrieve all the video clip information, as well as a list showing who triggered the alarm and when, and so on."


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