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Healthcare IoT Asset Tracking Leverages WiFi, Bluetooth

Continued advancements in low power wide area networks allow organizations to leverage the healthcare IoT for asset tracking.

healthcare IoT asset tracking

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Sierra Wireless released its BX Series WiFi and Bluetooth combo modules. The tool has built-in cloud services and security features meant to support environments that incorporate multiple devices, such as the healthcare IoT.

The tool has WiFi and Bluetooth support on a single common flexible for factor module. It allows users to easily transition between short-range and cellular technologies.

The BX series is built for healthcare applications and equipment monitoring solutions that need to connect to the cloud as well as WiFi and cellular-enabled asset tracking using the IoT. The duality of the BX series lets devices take advantage of both cellular and WiFi connections so users can be truly mobile and securely connect to the network from anywhere.

“A key aim of the BX series of modules is to bring to OEMs compelling features, like FOTA, secure boot and pre-integrated cloud services, to short range wireless technologies,” Beecham Research CEO Robin Duke-Woolley said in a statement. “These features have already proven valuable to OEMs in the cellular market, keeping IoT devices secure and updated in the field, and are now increasingly needed for all wireless technologies used as part of an IoT solution.”

The BX series includes an integrated secure boot and encrypted flash so the module can only function with verified software. The modules include pre-loaded security keys for authentication and secure connection to AirVantage. They are also compliant with the latest 802.11i WiFi security standard and support Bluetooth Secure Connections.

“An increasing number of applications require multiple wireless technologies, and many more will migrate to cellular connectivity in the future as low power wide area networks roll out globally,” Sierra Wireless OEM Solutions Senior Vice President and General Manager Dan Schieler said in a statement. “Designed using the CF3 common form factor, the BX Series provides our customers with the easiest integration experience for WiFi and Bluetooth devices and a simple migration path for future products.”

Asset tracking systems that use cellular and Bluetooth technology are vital to healthcare as organizations adopt more IoT devices. Connecting medical devices to the network not only allows them to transmit clinical data, but it also gives organizations the benefit of asset tracking.

Advancement in low-power, long-range communication technology has caused an increase in healthcare asset tracking. Recent improvements to Bluetooth and UWB have increased the effectiveness and range of location services.

Back in June, Aruba Networks announced the release of its location-based, fully integrated WLAN asset tracking solution to assist healthcare organizations in lowering operational costs caused by misplaced equipment.

The solution is integrated into the Aruba wireless infrastructure, allowing organizations to keep track of IoT and connected medical devices.

“Organizations worldwide lose millions of dollars every year on high-value items and inventory that are misplaced, lost or stolen,” Aruba said in a statement. “Furthermore, employees and customers suffer from lost productivity and poor experiences.”

“These challenges are particularly prevalent in industries like healthcare, where items such as IV pumps and heart defibrillators are easily misplaced, resulting in 25 percent of hospital staff’s time wasted looking for these assets and negatively impacting quality of care.”

Earlier this year, Ruckus and TrackR also collaborated to release a similar asset tracking solution that leverages Bluetooth WiFi access points to locate items.

Ruckus stated that the goal of this collaboration was to take task of remembering where items are so users can focus on their jobs rather than spend time locating things.

The importance of device monitoring has increased significantly as the healthcare industry continues to experience a critical digital evolution impacting patient care. As these devices are introduced to health IT infrastructure, organizations are charged with tracking them and ensuring that patient data is not at risk if a device becomes compromised.

As low power wide area networks continue to advance, healthcare organizations can leverage the technology to integrate more devices into their network so they can be more easily managed and monitored.