Wireless Medical Devices with Highly Accurate Indoor Positioning

Improve Safety, Efficiency & Patient Satisfaction.

Wireless Medical Devices with Highly Accurate Indoor Positioning Improve Safety, Efficiency & Patient Satisfaction

1.9.2021 | Author: Anssi Saarela, Senior Manager, Bittium

Monitoring or treating patients using wireless, battery-powered medical devices helps to solve many healthcare challenges. Critical health data is transmitted in real time from hospital beds as well as from outpatient setting. This not only increases the efficiency and reach of healthcare, but also the comfort and safety of the patients. However, to maintain an overview of the medical infrastructure in hospitals and clinics and, above all, to be able to quickly act in emergencies, it is imperative that the medical staff knows exactly where the required medical equipment is located at all times. Our R&D team works in cooperation with location technology specialist Exafore to ensure just that by supporting medical technology manufacturers in the development of such new and innovative solutions. In this blog post we have summarized the benefits that can be gained from combining innovative wireless medical devices with indoor positioning and the requirements such solutions should meet.

A New Level of Expertise

As the demand for wireless medical devices is growing rapidly, so is the need for specialized expertise in device development. Know-how of multiple radio technologies is a key expertise in the design process - developers must have know-how on practically all the wireless protocols from GNSS to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and from LTE Cat-M/Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) to 5G, including custom radio system development. In order to provide the requested features, the designs must also take into account radio interoperability for example between LTE, GPS, and BT. And as today´s wireless medical devices are often wearables or otherwise placed close to the body and come with a very compact form-factor, it poses challenges also for the antenna design. In addition to having the right kind of expertise from radio and antenna technologies, also power management is an important consideration in this context. As the devices are battery-powered, power optimization is critical and needs to take into account all the elements of the device to ensure desired operations.

Benefits of Integration

As the number of wireless mobile devices increases, hospitals are faced with the question of how to efficiently keep track of their new devices so that they are always ready for use and maintain the quality of care and efficiency. When the location of medical devices is known at all times, hospital staff can focus on their main task: caring for the patients. This not only enables savings through improved efficiency, but also increases patient satisfaction. To develop such advanced solutions, the devices need to be integrated with high-performance indoor positioning technology.

Nowadays, thanks to GPS and other tracking systems in vehicles, cell phones and other devices, it is possible to access location information outdoors almost anywhere and at any time. However, potentially life-saving comparable options for accurately locating medical devices and other assets indoors are still only available to a very limited extent. Let´s take a look at the requirements for such a solution.

Key Requirements

Scalability: A positioning solution should be scalable and able to "grow" with the requirements, so that it can be used to track the medical devices but can then also be used to determine the position of various other assets (hospital beds, wheelchairs, etc.).

Flexibility: Flexibility is also required in terms of the geographical location, so that the tracking service can be initially provided for just one building, but then easily extended to other buildings or wards.

Variability: The solution should be able to provide both real-time location information and location statistics.

User-friendliness: Positioning systems should be easy to install, operate and maintain. Furthermore, the solution should also allow retrofitting to existing medical devices.

Stability: To enable smooth operation under difficult conditions (interference, other radio signals, numerous interior walls) in multi-story buildings, the solution should have a robust design and a long battery life.

Security: For maximum data security, the tracking solution should be self-contained and usable even without an internet connection.

Precision: Hospital environments require varying degrees of positioning accuracy. Sometimes the indication of the corridor or room is sufficient, but sometimes an accuracy of 50 cm or better is required. The tracking solution should live up to that.


In hospital operations, wireless devices combined with accurate location information can lead to significant improvements in treatment processes and increased patient satisfaction and safety. At Bittium we have over 35 years of expertise in wireless connectivity and embedded design and decades of experience in successfully developing medical devices. Exafore offers a highly accurate indoor positioning solution that combines ultra-wideband (UWB) technology with sensors offering decimeter level accuracy. Exafore Horizon can be integrated with new wireless devices and customized to meet the needs of different hospitals.

"Together with Bittium, we can help medical device manufacturers develop, produce and deploy innovative medical devices with positioning capabilities", concludes Ilkka Saastamoinen, Director of Business Development, at Exafore.

Anssi Saarela, Senior Manager, Bittium

Anssi Saarela has over 20 years of experience from product development. He’s been working with all kinds of high-tech products that all have one common denominator: wireless connectivity. Anssi’s enthusiasm for technology and different cultures has led him to work with customers and vendors from all over the world and also as an expatriate in the USA. In his current role at Bittium, Anssi focuses on business and offering development in the Connectivity Solutions product and service area.