The US Navy, working with system developer ScenPro Inc. of Richardson, TX, is using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology from Texas Instruments to more efficiently track the status and location of hundreds of wounded soldiers and airmen, prisoners of war, refugees and others arriving for treatment at Fleet Hospital Three in Iraq. ScenPro's tactical medical coordination system (TacMedCS) allows medical professionals to use RFID-enabled wristbands to identify patients, and to update their status, location and medical information in the system's electronic whiteboard automatically.
The Navy implemented TacMedCS to replace a labor-intensive, entirely manual system consisting of pen and paper, cardboard tags and a centrally located whiteboard to show patient movement throughout the hospital. With the new electronic system, each patient at Fleet Hospital Three receives an RFID Smart Band® (manufactured by Precision Dynamics Corp. of San Fernando, CA) with a TI-RFID Tag-it™ smart label inlay, on which basic identification information is stored. Medical professionals use a hand-held RFID reader from A.C.C. Systems Inc. of Glen Head, NY, to read the unique identification number and add or change data to create a digital treatment record that travels with the patient as he or she is moved throughout the facility. Using a wireless LAN, patient information is transferred to an electronic patient management system, further eliminating manual re-entering of data at a central computer terminal.
Deployed for combat casualty care in a hospital location, the Navy is also exploring the use of TacMedCS for medics in the field. The system can quickly identify injured soldiers and record the types of treatment they receive. Using the GPS capabilities of the reader, information can be communicated back to commanders to expedite care and improve resource deployment. In the future, as the US continually prepares for crisis scenarios, TacMedCS can be expanded as a logistic management tool to track first responder equipment and personnel, and to improve record keeping. It fits seamlessly into command and control systems used in emergencies. RFID chips sewn into uniforms, or placed inside badges, and scanned at the scene of an event, allow personnel to identify the individual responders on site and log fire, police and emergency responders in and out of chemical or biological hot zones, for example.