Industry SolutionsHealthcare

Healthcare is an industry where the implementation of better tracking for both inventory and valuable assets makes a lot of sense, and leveraging RFID technology is a smart choice for organizations looking to maximize their efficiency. RFIDPros has been an integral part of helping many national healthcare providers implement solutions that not only play a critical role in locating valuable assets (such as crash carts or surgical instruments), but also in helping streamline existing processes with more precise data collection in shorter times.

RFID is an emerging technology in the healthcare industry because the idea of using resources more effectively in turn allows for hospital staff to spend less time running around trying to find medical supplies (and can then spend more of their time with patients). With some organizations already implementing RFID solutions, more ways to use the technology to adopt leaner supply chain practices associated with manufacturing are being discovered; which leads to lower costs and improved safety.

Here are just a few notable implementation of RFID solutions from healthcare organizations around the globe:

Reducing supply overstock: One of the most annoying problems nurses had at a hospital in New Hampshire had been overstock of supplies. The hospital also wanted to get a better handle on its supply management. Getting clinicians involved in developing it and championing these systems is essential to its success. It used a specially designed RFID solution to address the issues. The system uses primary and secondary batches of supplies. Each has a tag containing a passive RFID transponder. The person who takes the last of the primary batch of item, moves the next batch forward and places the tag on a wall-mounted RFID reader board near the storage unit. That triggers an automated replenishment request to the hospital’s material management information system and that generates a requisition to purchase the items. It had a 13 percent inventory reduction across its departments with the biggest inventory reductions in its surgery unit, ICU and emergency department. It also increased inventory where it needed it most — the Cath lab.

Injection safety: Sanraku Hospital, a 270-bed hospital in Tokyo, wanted to better manage its medical equipment. It started with needles. Using a handheld reader with RFID tags in patient wristbands, drugs are matched with prescription information in electronic medical records. The information can be accessed by scanning a bar code on the bottle and reading the patient’s ID number coded into the RFID tag on the patient’s wristband. It also links to the hospital’s injection drug inventory and traceability system.

Radiology: Some hospitals are taking innovative approaches to RFID. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center sewed RFID tags into the seams of x-ray protection vests in an effort to reduce the time it takes to locate the vests for government inspections, said Stuart Grogan, the radiology equipment manager who developed its Pulse Finder RFID enhanced system. There was some trial and error before it got it right — apparently plastic gets very brittle when it is exposed to radiation! It helped the hospital shift from what was essentially a paper-based system to an electronic one. Records are more accurate and equipment is easier to find.

Infection control: One way Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital is using RFID tags deployed to patients and staff is to trace people who come into contact with patients with a contagious potentially dangerous infection such as TB. It uses a team it refers to as mission control who can crunch data generated by RFID tag scanners to alert people who need to be screened.

Track and trace prescription drugs: On Thanksgiving President Barack Obama signed into law the Drug Quality and Security Act to electronically track and trace prescription drugs through product identifiers. Although this will largely affect pharmaceutical companies, it will change the way drugs are tracked. It will shift from tracking a drug based only on its lot number and include information such as expiration date and each point of contact for the drug from the manufacturer to the pharmacy. Long before it goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015, there will be several steps in the implementation process, including a public comment period.