Video nurse call system for recording and managing hospital staff response times
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Video Nurse Call System for Recording and Managing Hospital Staff Response Times. John Hernandez Craig Johnson Travis Hill Nathaniel Davis Andres Hernandez. School of Electrical and Computer Engineering October 16, 2007. Project Overview. Video Nurse Call System (ViNCS).

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Video Nurse Call System for Recording and Managing Hospital Staff Response Times

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Video Nurse Call System for Recording and Managing Hospital Staff Response Times

John Hernandez

Craig Johnson

Travis Hill

Nathaniel Davis

Andres Hernandez

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

October 16, 2007

Project Overview

Video Nurse Call System (ViNCS)

  • Allows patients to notify staff of their needs and records staff response times

  • Communicates through two-way audio and one way video streaming

  • Records staff response times into a database with RFID badges and a bedside reader

  • Provides an inexpensive solution to communication and staff negligence problems in hospitals

  • Unit costs about $3000, but installation costs minimal

System Layout


  • Transmit audio at 128 kbps with a maximum delay of 2 seconds

  • Provide video communication at 512 kbps and quality of 320 X 240 pixels

  • Achieve video/audio synchronicity of less than 100 msec

  • Employ a 7 pushbutton interface with discernable commands for different requests

  • Record staff response times into a database with a 134kHz RFID tag and reader

  • Adhere to cleanliness standards and minimal intrusion into the hospital environment

Technical Approach - Hardware

  • Patient computer: MicroATX single-board

  • Logitech USB webcam with face-tracking capability mounted in ceiling

  • Directional microphone mounted bedside, headboard-mounted speakers

  • Phidgets 134kHz (short-range) RFID reader with bracelet/watch tags

  • Wired connections between peripheral devices & patient computer, patient computer & network for reliability

  • Still need to find/design a waterproof keypad

Technical Approach - Software

  • Why LabVIEW ?

    • Advantages: popular in medical industry, hardware and database interfacing, GUI creation, executable creation

    • Disadvantage: steep learning curve of visual programming

  • Core LabVIEW software components

    • Embedded event structures inside “while” loops

    • Sending and Receiving queues

    • Custom USB interfacing VI’s (RFID, Skype)

Data Flow Diagram

Nurse Client GUI

Database Operations

  • Database implementation for recording staff response times

  • Database operations will be triggered by RFID reader and patient-initiated events

  • Will record request type, patient name, employee ID#, time of request/arrival and response time

  • Prototype LabVIEW solution: write to tab-delimited text file

  • Present design has no explicit need for reading from database, but this can be implemented in LabVIEW if necessary

  • Challenge: allowing write operations from various subroutines

Streaming Video & Audio

  • Need one-way on-demand video stream from patients to staff

  • Practical solution: SkypeVOIP software. Free service, good quality

  • Skype SDK available for LabVIEW, i.e.Skype connections & streaming can be managed from within LV VI’s

  • Concern: minimize delay for reasonable audio & video quality

  • Results of LV/Skype approach: telephone-quality audio & decent video resolution with < 200ms of delay

  • Problem: this approach limits the type of remote device that staff can use (e.g. most PDAs are out)

Completed and Future Work

  • Completed Tasks

    • Peripherals interface in Labview

    • 200ms delay in audio/video transmission using Skype

    • Read/Write database data

    • Wired and wireless transmission through LabView

    • Built speakers into headboard

  • Future Tasks

    • Create a virtual interface that links all the peripherals together

    • Design an event driven program for the control box

    • Add timestamp capabilities to the database

Cost Analysis



App. Completion Date

  • Stream video and audio through a network 09/25

  • Implement the RFID badge reading system10/25

  • Implement speaker system10/26

  • Designing and implementing the patient’s control box 11/06

  • Develop control box event driven program 11/06

  • Develop database and RFID software 11/07

  • Develop virtual interface11/08

  • Design Validation11/10

Marketing Analysis

  • Development cost: $52,607

  • Selling price per unit of $3000 assuming an average sale of 300 units per year over a 5 year period

  • Selling price includes materials and labor, fringe benefits, overhead, and sales expense

  • Expected profit and percent profit for each unit sold of $500 and 18.5% respectively


“Improved communication enhances

patient care, decreases length of stay,

and most importantly reduces the risk

of errors that can result from poor

communication between healthcare

provider and patient.”

-Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine

Johns Hopkins University


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