Reducing the Risk: Rush Implements Contactless Temperature Screening

Rush thermal imaging device

As Rush continues to prepare for the next possible surge of COVID-19 patients, one of its top priorities is maintaining a high level of safety for both patients and staff. With this in mind, Rush has implemented thermal temperature screening at all campus entry points.

When considering checking for fevers at the door, Rush staff took into account the shortage of thermometers throughout the U.S. Combining the need to conserve resources as well as protect staff from exposure, they set out to find an alternate route.

Using sensor technology, Rush was able to build a system that scans body temperatures at the door with no contact whatsoever. It can monitor and assess a person before they step inside, adding an extra layer of protection for everyone at Rush.

“The most important thing right now, is that people continue to check their temperature. We wanted something that could reduce risk and also be an advanced warning system for everyone at Rush,” said Shafiq Rab, senior vice president and CIO of Rush.

The technology

Rush is using technology to monitor the body temperature of anyone entering a campus building. This thermal sensor feature is a component of the broader autonomous monitoring platform.’s platform provides real-time information, to help keep patients, staff and facilities safe.

Rush is the first hospital system in Chicago to use this innovative technology for the purpose of checking body temperatures. And this type of tech is set apart from any other type thermal scanning technology. Why? Because it is individualized, Rab explained.

“Other hospitals, airports, they use a flare camera to scan for body temperatures at the door. This can be a problem when you have people walking in, someone may have an abnormal temperature, but you may not know who it is, it’s hard to pinpoint,” Rab said. “With our thermal sensor, it is individualized. It is scanning one person and we can distinguish who needs to be masked and isolated on the spot.”

Tablets have been modified with a thermal sensor and are placed on a stand at the correct height to scan any person who may enter a Rush building. The sensors will scan body temperatures for normal and abnormal temps. These sensors are “contactless,” meaning this sensor is completely automated and no one will have to touch anything to be scanned, adding one more layer of protection to anyone entering a Rush building.

At the moment Rush has five sensors, and soon it will add four more, putting the total up to nine. Sensors are also being installed at Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Copley Medical Center.

For anyone anxious about the idea of an automated sensor that is tailored to one individual, you can rest assured the sanctity of your identity will be protected. These sensors do not have facial recognition programmed and will only alert a staff member to come attend to each individual event.

Rush will not be taking any personal information through these sensors.

“We want to take the anxiety away from people. We aren’t taking pictures, just their temperature,” Rab explained. “We want them to be aware of what is going on. Knowing this information is key to flattening the curve.”

The process

The sensors will be stationed at each entry point on the Rush campus. Staff, patients and visitors will all be required to use the sensors before continuing to enter the building.

The sensor is set up for everyone entering the building to be 6 feet apart, to keep in practice with social distancing.

Upon entering a building on the Rush campus, a person will walk up to the “touch-free” thermal sensor which will screen for abnormal temperatures — an abnormal temperature is anything over 100F degrees. If a person’s body temperature reads as “normal,” they will be allowed to continue to enter the building.

When a person’s temperature reads as “abnormal,” key staff members will be notified. A message will pop up on the screen saying, “please wait for help,” and a staff member will then come and mask the individual, isolate them and direct them from there.

On top of making sure everyone who enters Rush does not have a fever, Rush is asking its health care workers to self-monitor twice daily. This was put into place so health care workers can monitor before they leave for work, reducing exposure risk for those already at Rush.

Continuing our preparedness

Rush is continuing to look ahead and stay prepared as COVID-19 spreads throughout the U.S. This is being done through a variety of ways including flipping full units to become COVID-19 units and turning its main lobby into a triage center for non-COVID patients in preparation for a max surge. These thermal scanners among entry are also a part of Rush’s ongoing preparedness.

This technology will reduce the risk of exposure for everyone involved. Using automated technology, there is no need to use staff to take the temperatures of every individual entering the hospital. This increases safety but will also increase clinical capacity, saving valuable time and resources in the process.

“This disease does not discriminate between workplace and your home. This technology helps the individual know if they have a temperature so they can isolate and help decrease the spread of disease,” Rab said. “It is a safety measure that works for you and your love ones and the community you are a part of.”

Rush has been and will continue to be on the forefront of utilizing innovative technology in its journey to provide excellent care. Through virtual visits to now a contactless method for monitoring body temperatures, Rush will continue to look for ways to continue to care for patients while keeping their safety a top priority.

“Temperature is a proxy and one if the indicators that may help us to isolate ourselves,” Rab said. “This is very important because we are trying to not overwhelm our health care resources, reducing our staff exposure risk by using contactless sensor to monitor body temperatures is an important component in that.”

Related Stories