As the healthcare technology landscape continues to advance, it is paramount that hospitals vet new and emerging technologies with a critical eye. Asking pertinent questions up front can facilitate conversations on real-life applications and results of proposed new technology. RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) infant monitoring systems remain a bedrock of infant care in hospitals, due to reliability, security, and cost-effectiveness. New Wi-Fi-based infant monitoring systems often offer greater flexibility in terms of coverage and can integrate with existing Wi-Fi networks in healthcare facilities.

RFID infant monitoring systems excel in delivering the highest level of protection, including providing real-time, accurate data to healthcare providers and families.

December 1, 2023, marked the last day hospitals could purchase STANLEY Healthcare Hugs Infant Protection hardware and therefore are now facing the critical end-of-service-and-support deadline of all existing RFID Hugs systems on August 24, 2024. The STANLEY solution to this massive problem for healthcare providers is forced migration to a Wi-Fi-based system. This upgrade requires an entirely new Wi-Fi infrastructure and considerable changes to staff internal processes related to infant protection. As an alternative to Wi-Fi, transitioning to a different RFID-based infant monitoring system can be more reliable and more cost-effective.

When it comes to protecting newborns, reliability and responsiveness are non-negotiable

Questions to Consider RFID Wi-Fi
How secure is the network used by the infant protection system? RFID operates on a dedicated frequency, ensuring uninterrupted monitoring and peace of mind for healthcare professionals and parents alike. RFID infant monitoring systems offer a closed-loop solution that is inherently secure, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access or tampering keeping patient safety and confidentiality secure. Wi-Fi-based solutions leverage existing Wi-Fi network security measures, such as firewalls and access controls, to protect data transmission. However, Wi-Fi networks can be susceptible to various security threats, including unauthorized access, rogue access points, and Wi-Fi sniffing attacks
How long will an infant wrist tag function, before needing to be charged? RFID tags are warrantied to last 12 months before needing to be charged. Further the tags self-report a low charge to prevent healthcare providers from applying a tag to a baby within 2-3 weeks of low battery. Wi-Fi tags contain a nonreplaceable, rechargeable battery that needs to be recharged after every use, using a proprietary charger lasting approximately two weeks. Thus, requiring hospitals to staff a Wi-Fi charging team to ensure the tags are always charged.
When do the tags activate? RFID tags are active even when unassigned, preventing accidental loss of tags. Wi-Fi tags are only active when assigned to a baby. Placing the tag in the charger erases all the tag data.
How quickly do door locks respond to sensing an infant being taken beyond the RFID perimeter? RFID tags lock doors within one second or less using radio frequencies. Wi-Fi sites have seen delays in door locking up to 72 seconds after a baby left the area before beginning to alarm.
Do the infant tags adjust to weight fluctuation? RFID tags automatically adjust to weight fluctuation in infants ensuring the tag does not come loose providing constant protection and peace of mind. Wi-Fi tags must be manually adjusted to accommodate weight loss and therefore can create alarm fatigue when contact is interrupted.
How difficult is the changeover process from an existing Hugs system? Local electrified door lock hardware remains as well as RFID infrastructure. Complete replacement of the entire system, including electrified door lock hardware.
How can the existing infrastructure investment be reused? Many healthcare facilities have invested heavily in RFID technology for inventory management and patient tracking, making maintaining RFID infant monitoring systems a natural extension of this existing infrastructure. When considering a Wi-fi solution, hospitals need to evaluate the capacity and reliability of an existing Wi-fi system to ensure it can handle an infant protection system. Will an expansion of an existing Wi-fi system be necessary?

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