5 Ways The Healthcare Industry Is Implementing RFID Technology

Less than 10 percent of hospitals have warmed up to RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, technology so it\’s very much an emerging trend in healthcare.

That’s the assessment of Mark Roberti, the founder and editor of RFID Journal. The idea is that by using resources more effectively, hospital staff can spend less time running around trying to find medical supplies and more time with patients. “The reason why healthcare costs are so high is hospitals keep buying things they already have and waste money,” Roberti said at a conference organized by his Journal which focused on RFID in Healthcare. Hospitals have been so focused on the priority of saving lives that they have been slow to adopt technology that saves money.

Representatives from hospitals and the healthcare industry illustrated how they have used the technology to adopt leaner supply chain practices associated with manufacturing to pare down costs and improve safety. Here are a few examples.

Reducing Supply Overstock
One of the most annoying problems nurses had at Concord Hospital in New Hampshire has 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 supply chain manager Logi-D‘s 2Bin-ID system. 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.

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.

Injection Safety
Sanraku Hospital, a 270-bed hospital in Tokyo, collaborated with BayNexus as part of an effort 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.

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. It combines software from ScanOnline with Motorola handheld readers. 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.


Source: MedCity News

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