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National Cancer Centre Singapore Treats More Chemotherapy Patients, Saves Time for Nurses

The organization has boosted its patient load by 20 percent by using active RFID tags to track the flow of patients to and from treatment chairs, as well as prompt pharmacists and nurses.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 06, 2014

Patients at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) now have a shorter wait time at the facility's chemotherapy unit, thanks to its use of active ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags and readers. Since the system's installation in 2011, the center has found that it can treat 20 percent more patients, wait times have been reduced by eight percent, and 56 percent of scheduled patients receive treatment within 30 minutes.

NCCS currently treats more than 35,000 chemotherapy patients annually. The facility has 54 chemotherapy chairs (also known as recliners) in which patients receive their chemo treatments during scheduled appointments. Without RFID, ensuring that an empty chair is quickly used by the next available patient, and thereby minimizing wait times, proved challenging for management. A staff member had to walk to each room and visually determine which chairs were ready for the next patients, and then notify those patients in the waiting room. This meant that chairs could sometimes remain empty for longer than necessary.

Tony Liang, IHiS' deputy director, and Mag Tan Wooi Lin, senior nurse manager at NCCS
"Due to the complexity of the chemotherapy treatment," says Mag Tan Wooi Lin, senior nurse manager at NCCS, "we needed a system that allows real-time views of our resources [the chairs] and appointments, so as to work efficiently and reduce patient waiting time." The center began looking into an RFID solution in 2009. Eventually, it opted to develop a system specific to this use case, assisted by health-care IT company Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), systems integrator Singapore Communications (Wavex) Pte. Ltd. and software provider Evantek Pte. Ltd., according to Tony Liang, IHiS' deputy director.

The resulting system, known as Real-time Ambulatory Patient Information Deployment Enabler (RAPIDE), would use active RFID to identify the locations of patients and personnel. RFID-enabled readers could then be used to confirm that an individual was sitting on a particular chair. IHiS handled the project's development and installation, using RFID tags and readers supplied and installed by Wavex.

According to Mag Tan, Wavex and Evantek integrated the RAPIDE software with NCCS' existing outpatient administration software, its queue system for identifying the order in which patients are received, and its SMS text-messaging system that contacted patients when their appointment was due to begin.

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