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Tufts Medical Center Saved $1.5 Million With RFID

The hospital's cloud-based inventory-management system has reduced inventory and purchasing costs by providing better data about items consumed within its procedure rooms.
By Mark Roberti
Sep 24, 2012Tufts Medical Center (Tufts MC), a 415-bed teaching hospital located in Boston, has saved $1.5 million on stents, angioplasty balloons and other implantable devices, based on information provided by a radio frequency identification inventory-management system deployed within its catheterization, electrophysiology and interventional radiology laboratories. The system is provided as a service by WaveMark.

Tufts MC has 11 procedure rooms: four for cardiac catheterization, three for electrophysiology, three for interventional radiology and one hybrid operating room for minimally invasive surgeries. The facility handles 7,000 procedures annually and maintains an inventory of implantable devices worth $2 million.

Diane Hubisz, operations director at Tufts Medical Center's CardioVascular Center

Diane Hubisz, the operations director of Tufts MC's CardioVascular Center, told the audience at this month's RFID in Health Care conference and exhibition that the medical center decided to track supplies within its catheterization, electrophysiology and interventional radiology labs because supplies account for 70 percent of the labs' costs, compared with supplies representing approximately 15 percent of the facility's overall costs.

In 2009, the companies signed an agreement to use WaveMark's software-as-a-service (SaaS) RFID system. When high-value items arrive, they are tagged with 13.56 MHz passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tags compliant with the ISO 15693 air-interface standard, and are placed within a WaveMark smart storage cabinet with a built-in RFID interrogator. At present, the hospital maintains 35 cabinets to track a total of 5,221 products, each with a value of more than $50.

"Before introducing RFID, we didn't have an inventory system," Hubisz said. "We had previously tried a bar-coding system that wasn't effective, so we had to resort to using a manual system."

Accurately monitoring inventory levels was difficult, Hubisz reported, because the Tufts MC had multiple vendors that supplied it with similar products that varied slightly (different size stents, for example), or comparable products that perform the same function. Managing inventory was further complicated by the constant introduction of new products, the rapid expiration and obsolescence of goods and the involvement of clinicians who had no information regarding the cost of the items they were ordering.

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