Why Current Patient Tracking Systems Don’t Work

Simple Tracking System addresses existing gaps in patient tracking and reunification, gaps that current systems do not address. There is a reason patient tracking and reunification continue to show-up as fail points in mass casualty after-action reports — responding agencies have not adopted a patient tracking system because none of the current solutions meet their needs or the responding agency’s system is not effective in some way. In this blog, we address common fail points with current systems and explain why Simple Tracking System is better.

Barcodes & Triage Tags

Problem: All other patient tracking systems utilize barcodes and triage tags to track patients throughout a mass casualty response. However, barcodes and triage tags are very ineffective. For one, they often fall off a patient throughout the response. Patients move frequently from the point of first contact to a casualty collection point or triage area and then onto transport and eventually to a medical facility for treatment. At any one of these points, the tag can fall off or become torn, leaving the patient without any identity.

If the tag remains on the patient, it can also become damaged and rendered useless. Emergencies see many different types of liquids – water, blood, sweat, saliva, urine, vomit, etc. – that can damage tags making them unscannable. Finally, in some cases, barcodes are duplicated. Although rare, this can result in the misidentification of patients or the erasure of a patient from the tracking system.

Solution: Simple Tracking System (STS) uses your face as the barcode. Your face is a unique feature, which is always on your person. Through image matching technology, STS matches images of the patient’s face throughout a response to track their location and status during an emergency. Each patient image has a date, timestamp, and GPS location attached to it, pertinent information for the responding agency.

By using the face as the barcode, agencies have no need for barcodes or triage tags. The face cannot be removed from the patient and is tied to only one individual. STS only tracks patients from the start of an emergency to the end. If a patient has damage to their face, the images of their face are relatively similar from the point of first contact to arrival at the hospital. Images of the damaged face will be the same and match without issue.


Problem: As we saw in the Route 91 shooting in Las Vegas, large emergencies are not self-contained, patients do not wait for EMS. Some either self-reported to a hospital or had a friend, family member or even stranger transport them to the hospital in a personal vehicle. And as seen in several responses, law enforcement has even transported patients in their vehicles. How do responding agencies account for these patients? If a patient is not “scanned” by an EMS agency, they may not be documented or tracked in the system.

Solution: Simple Tracking System is completely scalable, allowing for as many users as necessary for a responding agency to obtain a complete response picture of an incident. A responding agency can provide access to their law enforcement partners as well as area hospitals to ensure they are able to document and track patients who bypass the traditional EMS model of transport. Partnering agencies do not need any additional equipment to access STS, just a smartphone and the STS application. If a patient self-reports, the hospital can document their status upon arrival. This ensures the patient is accounted for in the response.

Equipment & Training

Problem: Current systems require agencies to purchase and maintain additional equipment outside routine systems used on a daily basis. Not only does this require more money, it requires personnel to train to understand and operate the equipment. This type of equipment also requires annual maintenance costs and refresher training. And it’s important for agencies to invest in the upkeep and maintenance of the equipment and training of personnel. Because how good is a system that does not work when you need it to? What will your agency do if personnel don’t know how to operate the equipment? Most revert to pen and paper.

Solution: Simple Tracking System does not require any additional equipment aside from items responders use every day, a smartphone and/or computer. Those responding in the field to document patients use a smartphone to run the STS application. While those in leadership use a tablet or computer to view, match and analyze patient records in the database. By using equipment that responders use every day, ongoing training is not necessary. Most everyone already knows how to take a picture with their smartphone as well as input text or data by typing or voice dictation. However, STS offers onboarding training to agencies and training videos are always available.


Problem: It is no secret that current patient tracking systems are expensive. And as mentioned previously, the purchase cost is just one expense. Agencies must invest in updates, upgrades, and maintenance of the equipment. And training costs for personnel, both initial training and annual, refresher training. Public safety budgets are already inadequate and decreasing every year. Why invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into a system that continues to fail?

Solution: Simple Tracking System is inexpensive. Current pricing structure is based on a response agency’s jurisdiction size. Agencies can pay on an annual or monthly basis. The largest jurisdiction size is above 1 million and costs $19,500 a year. There is a nominal onboarding fee (less than $5,000) to set-up an agency’s account and provide training to personnel. At STS, we believe in providing a cost-effective product that works, so agencies can invest in more priorities to keep their communities safe.