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What Are the Applications for RFID in Health Care?

Posted By RFID Journal, 02.24.2015

Can you please name a few?

—Name withheld


There are many, actually. I will list some below. You can search our website and find case studies of hospitals and clinics that have implemented RFID for these applications.

Medical equipment tracking, which reduces the amount of time employees spend searching for items, increases asset-utilization rates and cuts capital expenditures for new equipment.

San Joaquin Community Hospital, in San Joaquin, Calif., achieved a reduction in search times for PCA pumps, from an average of 23 minutes to less than 5 minutes, saving 1,663 man hours in 4 months (see San Joaquin Hospital Boosts Asset Utilization).

Union Hospital, in Terre Haute, Ind, has saved labor hours equivalent to one full-time employee since deploying a real-time location system (RTLS) in January 2010 (For Union Hospital, Recall of Vital-Sign Monitors Reinforces Value of RTLS).

Genesis Health Systems had hoped to cut the amount of time its workers spent searching for medical equipment from 22 minutes down to 11 minutes via RFID, but it actually decreased the time down to only two minutes (Genesis Health System Uses RFID to Drill Deeper).

Since Trident Health System deployed an RTLS, it reduced the average 21 minutes required to find equipment down to five minutes per nurse, per shift (see Trident Health System Boosts Patient Throughput, Asset Utilization).

Wayne Memorial Hospital found, after deploying an RTLS, that it was utilizing only 60 percent of the oxygen pumps it owned, so it purchased 50 fewer than planned, thereby saving $275,000 (see At Wayne Memorial, RFID Pays for Itself).

Mission Hospital, in Mission Viejo, Calif., achieved a 7 percent increase in asset-utilization rates after deploying an RTLS (see Mission Hospital Improves Equipment Utility Rate).

During the three months after it installed an RTLS, San Joaquin Community Hospital, in San Joaquin, Calif., increased utilization from 50 percent to nearly 80 percent for PCA pumps, and from about 40 percent to more than 60 percent for IV pumps (see San Joaquin Hospital Boosts Asset Utilization).

Health First, a Florida hospital network, saved $300,000 after deploying RFID, since it did not need to purchase 100 replacement infusion pumps (see Hospital RTLS Tracks Pumps' Status and Movement).

Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston, expects to save $300,000 annually from using an RTLS to track 8,000 devices (see Brigham and Women's Hospital Becomes Totally RTLS-enabled).

Bon Secours Richmond Health System has saved $2 million each year from its RTLS as a result of drastically reducing the amount of rental equipment utilized by the company's four hospitals, as well as by decreasing the incidence of lost or stolen equipment (see Bon Secours Richmond Finds RFID Saves $2 Million Annually).

Regulatory compliance, which reduces the amount of labor required to collect information required by the government

University Hospital, in upstate New York, installed a temperature-monitoring system within approximately 100 refrigerators that store pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and bone and tissue samples. Previously, workers had to manually record temperatures several times each day on paper. The system was slow and had the potential for errors. Wi-Fi tags now transmit temperature data at pre-set intervals, along with the date and time, and the unique ID number of the tag within the refrigeration unit (see New York Medical Center Tracks OR Equipment for Trauma Care).

Reducing lost or stolen equipment, by having visibility into where items are and which items are leaving a facility

After deploying an RTLS, Mission Hospital, in Mission Viejo, Calif., decreased the number of lost items by 14 percent, equating to an annual savings of $150,000 to $200,000 worth of equipment (see Mission Hospital Improves Equipment Utility Rate).

Hand-washing compliance monitoring, which reduces hospital-acquired infections

Princeton Baptist Medical Center, in Birmingham, Ala., has achieved a 36 percent reduction in patient visit times resulting from health-care-acquired infections since deploying an RFID-based hand-washing compliance system in February 2010. That equates to 125 fewer bed days since February in which patients were hospitalized for infections acquired while receiving treatment at the facility (see Hospital RTLS Tracks Pumps' Status and Movement).

Improving patient flow, by providing data and alerts regarding when patients check in and out, and by monitoring how much time patients spend awaiting procedures

Memorial Hospital, in Miramar, Fla., improved its average bed turnover rate to 30 minutes (see Memorial Hospital Miramar Builds Benefits Onto Its RTLS).

Patient Safety

Austria's University Hospital, in Innsbruck, has installed two RTLS-based alarm systems to track workers at its facility who may be confronted with aggressive patients (see Innsbruck University Hospital Finds Safety Through RFID).

St. Andrews Healthcare, the United Kingdom's largest nonprofit provider of mental-health services, uses an RTLS to enable staff members to send alerts, and to route them to the appropriate personnel (see St. Andrew's Healthcare Gets Help in Real Time).

The Prince Court Medical Center, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is employing RTLS tags with a built-in infrared (IR) transmitter to protect infants within its facility (see Malaysia's Prince Court Medical Center Adopts RFID).

Montpellier University Hospital, in France, has deployed a wireless system that can alert health-care workers when a patient falls (see New System Reports Patient Falls).

No hospital is currently using RFID for all of these applications. However, all hospitals will eventually use the technology for all of them.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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