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Genesis Health System Uses RFID to Drill Deeper

AeroScout's Wi-Fi-based technology provides the Iowa hospital with more-detailed reports based on equipment movement and usage, and lets it respond more quickly to natural disasters or other emergencies.
By Claire Swedberg
The 700 items Genesis is tracking include several bariatric wheelchairs (heavy-duty models designed for large patients), stretchers and powered air-purifying respirators. The MobileView software is designed to provide Genesis with building-, campus- and enterprise-level maps of the facilities, with icons representing any items the user requests. It also enables the hospital's management to track the movement of equipment over the past 24 hours.

Each morning, Montgomery says, the MobileView software generates between 16 and 18 reports detailing such information as the assets' location at that time, as well as when the equipment has been stalled at a particular location, and when the best time would be to move equipment from one location to another. He can also utilize the software to ascertain the whereabouts of equipment, and thereby redeploy those assets based on the number and type of surgeries scheduled for that day. While that kind of task initially would have required several hours of walking through two facilities to determine which equipment was in which location, Montgomery says he can now obtain that kind of information from his desktop computer.

Initially, the hospital began using AeroScout's T3 tags, which come with programmable buttons and tamper alerts. The hospital found those features were not necessary, however, and has since swapped those tags for AeroScout's cheaper T2 tags, which lack such features. In the future, Montgomery indicates, he would like to utilize passive tags on lower-value items with RFID readers at doorways, in order to track when equipment leaves the hospital, thereby enabling hospital management to know when an item needs to be replaced, as well as track when a particular item was removed from the facility and correlate that removal with who took that piece of equipment, based on video footage. "Not necessarily for disciplinary action," he states, "but for corrective measures."

According to Montgomery, the hospital currently has the AeroScout tags set to beacon every few seconds, though it may reduce that beacon rate in the future, to increase the life of the tags' batteries. "As we were heading in, we were enamored with the idea of watching an IV pump walk down the hallway," he says. "That's really neat, but it's not needed, and we might slow down the beacon rate in the future."

Thus far, Montgomery says, the system has been user-friendly, and he can set up reports as he chooses. "I'm really excited about the system," he says, noting that although the return on investment can not be quantified, the improvement in patient care as a result of having the right equipment available where and when it is needed has made the system worthwhile.

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