VA deploys sensors to track most equipment

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has begun installing sensors to track anything that costs more than $50. The sensors, which will number in the millions, will be used to manage medical equipment, supplies, specimens and implants -- and, eventually, medical personnel and patients.

Hewlett-Packard announced that it has received a $543 million, five-year contract to begin deploying real-time location system (RTLS) technology at VA facilities nationwide. RTLS is an umbrella term for a range of scanning and wireless technologies that include Wi-Fi-based location tracking systems as well as RFID tags.

The goal is to make the VA more efficient in the way it uses supplies, manages inventory and delivers services to patients. Among other things, the system will send alerts if equipment is moved outside a designated area, or if a patient has moved into a restricted area.

The VA will also use the system to monitor the temperature of supplies and determine whether equipment has been sterilized.

The initiative will also include research into new ways to use data generated by such systems, an HP manager said.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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