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Hospital to Track 12,000 Assets via Active RFID

Michigan Medicine has already tagged about half that many items, and is tracking them with a Stanley Healthcare MobileView Wi-Fi- and ultrasound-based system.
By Claire Swedberg
May 22, 2017

Michigan Medicine, one of the largest health-care complexes in the world, has deployed active RFID technology to track thousands of assets throughout its facility. The technology is intended to reduce rental costs, as well as the rate of missing equipment as the health-care provider expands further.

Hank Davis, Michigan Medical's patient equipment manager, along with Amy Campbell, the company's senior project manager and Lisa Borowicz, a patient equipment business systems analyst, described the deployment at RFID Journal LIVE! 2017, held last week in Phoenix, Ariz. The technology, consisting of Wi-Fi-based active RFID tags, ultrasound exciters and MobileView software, was provided by technology company Stanley Healthcare.

The Michigan Medicine complex
Michigan Medicine houses 1,000 beds in five buildings, and receives 104,000 ER visits and more than 54,300 surgical cases annually. The hospital manages 12,000 pieces of equipment in its centralized patient equipment department. That equipment includes pumps and beds, as well as other devices in high demand and critical for patient care. Davis' office received 200,000 equipment requests in 2016 alone.

Traditionally, requests were made by health-care personnel online or by phone, and were filled by hospital employees who delivered the requested equipment. Those individuals then swept units for equipment that require cleaning, and that equipment was then cleaned and returned to the central facility until requested again.

"Clearly, with a system this large, you've got to know where everything is on the fly," Davis said, but by 2008 the hospital had realized it needed technological tools to improve the system.

Davis said that by 2012, the hospital was conducting research into RFID solutions and visiting other sites with technology implementations. They knew they didn't want to use power outlets or run a large amount of Ethernet cable, so they opted for the Stanley Healthcare solution that would leverage the hospital's existing Cisco Wi-Fi infrastructure and enhance that with Power-over-Ethernet (POE) exciters. Once the hospital obtained management approval in 2014, it began an implementation the following year, and it has since tagged more than 6,500 assets.

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