RSNA tests tracking device at 2004 meeting

February 24, 2005

Certain name badges at last year’s RSNA meeting came with something extra: a computer chip embedded in them to track the wearer’s whereabouts.

Certain name badges at last year's RSNA meeting came with something extra: a computer chip embedded in them to track the wearer's whereabouts.

The chip was encoded with the attendee's identification, which was read via portals, or pick-up devices. The portals guarded one meeting room, the site of three separate case-based courses on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Registrants who had preregistered for those courses were informed via letter that they had been selected to participate in this pilot program. About a half-dozen opted not to take part, said Steve Drew, assistant executive director for the annual scientific assembly and informatics.

The RSNA intends to compare the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking data with data from two other information trackers in place at the meeting: CME vouchers and the interactive audience response system (ARS).

All three systems were used for the selected courses, although not all registrants submitted CME vouchers, nor did they all complete course evaluations via ARS, Drew said. So the numbers varied.

For the Monday course, for example, 850 people had preregistered. Data from all three tracking systems indicated that 827 people actually showed up. For those 827, however, the RFID system had a poor pick-up rate.

"We were expecting a 95% scan rate, but we got much less than that," he said.

Each embedded badge cost $1, and the RSNA spent about $8000 to run the pilot program. A decision on using the tracking devices for 2005 is pending. Officials might want to use the RFID system in the exhibit halls where data could be cross-referenced with booth-tracking information to determine the accuracy of the RF devices, Drew said.

"RFID is exciting technology, and we can learn who is taking advantage of different portions of the program. Ultimately, this helps us better assess the needs of attendees," he said.

It is an expensive technology to employ throughout McCormick Place. As an evolving standard, it needs more study to determine its efficacy. A complete analysis of the data is expected in March. The bugs will have to be worked out before attendees can expect their CME vouchers to be handled automatically.

Another RSNA first in 2004 was the use of electronic posters. The trial effort included only neuro and chest education and scientific posters. Researchers found out after the fact that their posters would be presented via the electronic media, Drew said.

Unlike the European Congress of Radiology, which made a big splash of its use of electronic posters, the RSNA was rather silent on the effort.

"It's what's in the poster that's important," Drew said.

One hundred computers were set up for the endeavor, and the response was positive. The flow of traffic was solid throughout the day. Attendees could download posters from presenters who gave permission in advance. The RSNA will probably expand the use of electronic posters this year, but not to 100%, Drew said.

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Tracking tool can solve scheduling problems

RSNA changes emphasis to attract global audience

ECR prepares to enter digital age with online poster exhibition