Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore'

July 10, 2003

Some things are too good to be true. Some are too true to be good. Computerized locators can be both.Global positioning systems tell us where we are when we get lost. With smart navigation programs, they tell us how to get to where we are going.

Some things are too good to be true. Some are too true to be good. Computerized locators can be both.

Global positioning systems tell us where we are when we get lost. With smart navigation programs, they tell us how to get to where we are going. Mostly, they have been used outdoors by hikers on footpaths, for example, or drivers in cities or on interstates or country roads. They've been great. But they've never come inside.

A small firm in Lawrence, MA, wants to change that. Radianse-formerly Sentinel Wireless-provides Indoor Positioning Solutions (IPS), and the company has set its sights on healthcare applications. The Radianse IPS combines infrared and radio gizmos to keep tabs on just about anything anyone wants to keep track of.

The company says its solution will improve equipment utilization. I guess that makes sense. If you know where the equipment is, you're more likely to use it. Now where did I put that C-arm? Hmmm.

If keeping track of a piece of equipment were the extent of this solution, I'd be pretty impressed. But Radiasense doesn't stop there. The "anything" that this IPS can track includes people.

Frankly, there are some times when I don't want to be found. Now and then, I need to get away on my own. I figure it's that way with doctors and nurses and technologists, too. But it may be too late.

"The tipping point for explosive growth of nonmilitary GPS applications was when GPS receivers increased in accuracy and decreased in costs," said Dr. Nathaniel Sims, an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. "That's where we are now with indoor positioning systems. Technological advances have reduced the complexity and cost of these location systems, and the application potential for healthcare is likely to be substantial."

Sims was speaking at the first annual Indoor Location Leadership Conference, sponsored-naturally-by IPS developer Radianse. He described how, at MGH, staff in the "operating room of the future" are wearing small, battery-powered transmission tags to measure patient flow-time, wait-time, resource utilization, and their variances, from registration to surgery to recovery. A kind of Big Brother in your back pocket.

It's anyone's guess how far this will go. Radianse CEO Reed Malleck, of course, expects it will go far.

"A Radianse IPS is a healthcare IPS: affordable, simple, and pervasive," he said.

Personally, I'm opposed. But then again, I don't even have a pager.


Greg Freiherr is the editor of Diagnostic Imaging SCAN-the global biweekly of medical imaging. Every issue of SCAN delivers exclusive news and analysis on developments and trends impacting the business of medical imaging.