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Massachusetts General Uses RFID to Better Understand Its Clinics
A patient- and employee-tracking system, provided by Radianse, will enable the Boston hospital's clinics to gather complex information regarding patient flow and bottlenecks, with the goal of improving care.
Oct 23, 2009—After several years of testing RFID to track patients and staff members in its operating room (OR) department, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is now rolling out the same technology in a more challenging environment in which patient movement is not nearly as predictable—at medical clinics throughout the Boston area. Provided by Radianse, the system, known as Radianse Reveal, includes active 433 MHz RFID tags in the form of badges worn by workers and patients. Thus far, three clinics are employing Radianse Reveal, with the system slated to go live at another five locations by the end of the first quarter of 2010.
"Our incentive is to gain a better understanding of how our clinical systems behave," says James Stahl, a medical doctor and senior scientist with MGH's Institute for Technology Assessment. Unlike the tracking of assets or patients through an OR, tracking patients' movements through a clinic, Stahl says, "is a very complex system in terms of how resources are managed."
The three MGH Boston clinics utilizing the system typically serve 20 to 40 patients per physician each day, with approximately three physicians at each location. Two of the clinics installing the system see patients on a scheduled basis, while one is a walk-in clinic.
In 2005, Massachusetts General set up a trial of Radianse RFID technology to track employees and patients in its OR unit. At the time, Stahl served as the research director of the trial project, known as the Operating Room of the Future (ORF). The project's goal was to determine whether RFID technology could track the movements of patients and staff members, and improve the operation room workflow based on that data. The technology is still in place in the OR, Stahl says, but has been deactivated for the time being.
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