SMARTRAC’s and CIT’s presentation on improving on the hospital wristband


Earlier today at NGPX (the Next Gen Patient Experience conference in Litchfield Park, Arizona), my company SMARTRAC gave a presentation with Cutaneous Information Technologies (CIT) on an improvement on the hospital wristband: The Patient ID Shield.

Today: The hospital wristband


Hospital wristbands are used to identify patients and provide some basic information about the patient to caregivers. The current state-of-the-market technology for hospital wristbands is laser printing or thermal imaging, with support for large, legible fonts and barcodes that enable electronic patient and medication tracking.

Sometimes, a patient will be tagged with one or more additional wristbands to clearly indicate that the patient has a specific condition or that certain procedures should be followed with that patient:


When “stacked” on a patient’s arm, they end up looking like this:


While they are useful safety devices, hospital wristbands have a number of limitations:

  • They’re prone to errors. The U.S. Department of Health estimates that misidentification errors cost $1.4 billion per year in the US alone.
  • They’re uncomfortable. On patient satisfaction surveys, they universally get a negative score.
  • They can cut off circulation or lead to acute compartment syndrome if put on too tightly.
  • They can become a source of infection because they can easily get soiled, especially on the inside.
  • They can fit insecurely, especially in the case of children. In these cases, it’s too easy to remove and transfer them.
  • Their small size limits legibility and limits the information you can put on them.

Soon: The Shield


Click the image to see it at full size.

The Shield is a solution that takes the basic concept of the hospital wristband and enhances it with:

  • CIT’s concept of a large, easy-to-read decal applied directly to the patient’s skin that provides caregivers with quick information they can read and additional information that they can access with a mobile device, and
  • SMARTRAC’s Enablement solution, which uses its industry-leading RFID tag and inlay technology combined with its Smart Cosmos platform to connect real-world people and things to the digital information associated with them.

The Shield is easier to read than a wristband, and the space it provides for additional allergy and care information means that you don’t need to clutter a patient’s arm with additional wristbands.

In addition to the enhanced human readability, the enhanced machine readability enabled by the combination of barcode and RFID technology means that it’s easy to get detailed information about a patient using a mobile device. The Smart Cosmos platform behind the Shield integrates with EMR systems to offer a fully customizable patient management system to enhance the patient’s safety and experience at the hospital.


Along with CIT, we’re aiming to make Shield technology available to hospitals and other healthcare facilities worldwide next year. It’s part of SMARTRAC’s evolution from a “we make RFID tags and inlays” company to a “we make software and hardware to make objects smarter” company.

Want to know more? Take a look at SMARTRAC’s official news release: Smartrac and CIT to Present Breakthrough Patient Identification Shield Solution at Next Generation Patient Experience Event.

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