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Scottish Hospital Expanding Hybrid Active and Passive RFID System

National Health Service Forth Valley Royal has measured a savings of $456,000, based on a reduction of its inventory following a deployment of RFID to track its assets' locations in real time, as well as how they were used historically.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 25, 2017

Scotland's National Health Service (NHS) Forth Valley Hospital is expanding a hybrid RFID system, which enables its main Forth Valley Royal facility to manage its medical devices, to two of its other community hospitals. The solution already includes 14,000 passive RFID tags on assets, along with 4,000 active RFID tags on the highest-valued of those items.

Those assets with active tags attached can be tracked in real time as they move around the facility, while the passive tags on all assets items them to be located via mobile readers. The solution, known as RFID Discovery—includes passive and active readers and tags, as well as software, and is provided by U.K. technology company Harland Simon.

The RFID Discovery device
Since the system's installation three years ago, the hospital has found that it has prevented $455,000 in expenses related to asset purchases and maintenance. That savings resulted from both real-time and historical data provided to the hospital that identifies both where equipment is located and how often it is used.

NHS Forth Valley Royal opened in 2010. The facility spans approximately 113,600 square meters (1.2 million square feet), —with 860 beds throughout 25 wards. The active RFID system is installed at that main hospital, while Forth Valley also includes four smaller community hospitals, two of which are slated to be taken live with the same technology later this year. In the meantime, the passive RFID system is already in use at the main hospital, as well as at the two community hospitals.

The main hospital manages 14,000 medical devices, including electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors, beds, syringe drivers and pumps. Like other NHS Trust facilities throughout the United Kingdom, Forth Valley Royal was challenged with managing and locating its medical devices and meeting legal, regulatory and policy requirements related to those devices.

Having thousands of medical devices in a busy hospital, where hundreds of staff members must vie for their use, has made asset management too complex for manual tracking, says Bryan Hynd, NHS's head of medical physics. NHS estimates that at any of its health-care facilities, 85 percent of nurses spend up to an hour each shift searching for supplies, such as wheelchairs and pumps. The average hospital loses up to 15 percent of its assets annually, it found.

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