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Tennessee Hospital Tracks High-Value Items
WaveMark's cabinets enable Memorial Hospital, in Chattanooga, to track thousands of implantable and surgical devices, and to ensure patients are properly billed for those items.
Aug 05, 2009—Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn., required a solution to the costly wastage it experienced in regard to its implantable and surgical devices. The loss of unused and unbilled products was costing thousands of dollars each year, says Scott Hardin, the hospital's cardiovascular services director.
Just last year, in fact, Memorial lost $500,000 because items were simply gone without being billed for, forcing Hardin to adjust his annual budget. "The products had either disappeared, were not charged correctly, or they got moved to the wrong department," he says. Since April of this year, the hospital has been employing an RFID-based system provided by WaveMark to address the problem.
To improve visibility, Hardin considered RFID cabinets, but says these were often bulky and could be utilized only for implantable devices (not catheters, which needed to hang on hooks rather than stack on shelves). He also looked into bar-code solutions, but concluded that bar-coding scanners were too prone to human error; if employees failed to scan an item upon removing it from a shelf, the system could not do its job properly. So he chose the WaveMark solution, which offered space for catheters and a smaller footprint than other RFID cabinets.
With the RFID system, Memorial Hospital's workers receive new products in an inventory room near the receiving dock, scanning each product's bar-coded serial number using a bar-code scanner on a WaveMark desktop reader cabled to a computer. They then use the same desktop device to read a passive 13.56 MHz ISO 15693-compliant RFID tag and attach it to the product, linking that tag's ID number with the bar-coded serial number and other information regarding the product, such as its type, size, expiration date and cost to a patient.
Prior to surgical use, products are stored in cabinets located in various labs. There are 10 cabinets altogether—six fitted with shelves, as well as four specifically designed for hanging products, such as catheters and wires. Within each cabinet are multiple RFID readers—typically, one per shelf, according to WaveMark's director of marketing, Colleen Terry. The interrogators capture the tags' unique ID numbers, forwarding them approximately every 20 minutes to software running on WaveMark's Internet-based server, via an Ethernet cable, along with a time and date stamp.
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