A Real-Time Location System for Contact Tracing, Tracking Equipment and Monitoring Hand Hygiene Compliance Page ContentThe National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) was officially launched in Sept 2019, taking over from the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC). As NCID opened in a new building, it was a prime opportunity to outfit the centre with state-of-the-art technologies to help healthcare staff provide better care. Let’s take a look at some of these technologies and how they work.The OpportunityJane, a staff nurse, needed a medical device but couldn’t find it – someone had forgotten to return it. She spent the next 30 minutes tracking the device down. Later, Jane attended to several patients. As per best practice, she sanitised her hands before and after touching a patient. However, an incident disrupted her routine, and in her haste, she forgot to do so for one patient.Suddenly, an alarm beeped – a disease outbreak! Staff sprang into action. Patient Zero needed to be interviewed about where he had been and who he had came into contact with, known as contact tracing. However, his recollection was vague and precious time was being lost in building up an accurate contact history.Could technology help to prevent the problems in the scenario above?The SolutionThe answer is yes! The NCID has been outfitted with the Real-Time Location System (RTLS), which incorporates various locating technologies into wearable tags that track patients, visitors, staff and assets. This provides staff with real-time information on the location of assets and helps to provide rapid, accurate and reliable contact tracing to help NCID prepare for and control outbreaks of contagious diseases.Equipment gone missing? Jane can now look for its last known location using RTLS, leading to precious time saved. Forgot to sanitise her hands before or after attending to a patient? Jane’s RTLS staff tag will now beep and remind her to practice good hand hygiene. Patient Zero unable to recall where in the hospital he had been or which staff had attended to him? Staff who do contact tracing will now be able to tell where he was and who he had been in close contact with. This applies to his visitors too, as all visitors are required to wear RTLS tags when they enter the wards. This quickens the process of identifying, assessing and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent onward transmission.Implementing the RTLSStaff measuring the distance required for the tags to syncStaff of IHiS, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and NCID began planning for the RTLS together in 2017. It started with scoping out the requirements, drafting the specifications, publishing an open RFP, evaluating the proposals and negotiating with shortlisted vendors. Because a full-fledged contact tracing and hand hygiene solution is the first of its kind in Singapore, the project team did not have much local reference. As such, a lot of research and discussions went into this preparatory phase.During the installation phase, the project team had to ensure that thousands of wearable tags were all working properly after they were delivered. With so much tagging and syncing involved in the roll out of RTLS in NCID, IHiS had to ensure that the building had sufficient network coverage. This meant installing more than 500 exciters – devices that “wake” the RTLS tags to transmit their locations – all over the building.During the User Acceptance Tests, IHiS discovered a bug in the product principal’s servers that needed to be fixed. However, as it was close to the go-live date, the vendor was unable to fix the bug in time. To ensure that the launch adhered to the committed schedule, IHiS worked with the vendor to secure and replace the faulty servers, and put in extra shifts to configure the servers to be in time for the go-live. RTLS is currently being piloted in NCID, and full roll-out is expected to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2020.