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Ann Arbor VA Hospital Tracks Lab Supplies Via RFID

WaveMark's smart cabinets and read stations enable the Michigan medical center to monitor where its lab products are located, when they are used on a patient and when they may be due to expire.
By Claire Swedberg
As additional VA hospitals deploy the same technology, Hernandez says, she expects them to share data regarding which materials each site has on hand, and to also share those items, should the need arise.

For instance, the radiology department uses some of the same stents as those utilized within the cardio lab. If a situation arises in which one department needs such stents right away, it can access the system, determine that there are more in stock at another location and use those stents, instead of spending a lot of money on an emergency shipment from the vendor, or canceling the patient's procedure. If one hospital uses a product much more often than another, inventory managers will be able to observe this fact and either transfer or cross-level stock, which would be more efficient and save the VA more money, explains Colin Betts, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System's supervisory inventory-management specialist chief.

"Usage is also tracked more efficiently," Betts says. "It is easier to see if a product doesn't move or turn very fast, so less of that product can be stocked, leaving room for more fast-moving items. This is especially important, because space is at a premium. The hospital is increasing its caseload, and hence its procedure areas, but without increasing its footprint."

The hospital intends to open a third laboratory during the coming year, which will also use the WaveMark system. This will include additional cabinets and a third XPOS station.

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