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Shands Cuts Equipment Search Time by 98 Percent

The University of Florida hospital is now testing a temperature-tracking solution after installing AeroScout technology to track equipment at three facilities.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 19, 2012Early in-house studies conducted by Shands at the University of Florida (UF&Shands), a health system operated by the University of Florida, indicates that an asset-tracking solution installed at its three facilities in Gainesville has reduced the number of hours that its emergency department staff spends searching for missing equipment by 98 percent. Shands at UF is employing an asset-management solution provided by AeroScout, a division of Stanley Healthcare Solutions, to track approximately 1,000 assets across five departments, by means of AeroScout's battery-powered Wi-Fi RFID tags. The hospital is also in the midst of carrying out a proof-of-concept test at all three facilities, involving about 200 AeroScout temperature-sensing RFID tags.

The health-care group initially sought asset-tracking technology to help workers locate computers on wheeled carts, which they used as they met with patients, according to Brad Kowal, Shands' director of data centers and RTLS technologies. The group looked for a system that would leverage its existing Cisco Wi-Fi-based network, and selected the AeroScout system in 2009.

At the time, Shands was in the process of constructing its new 500,000-square-foot south tower—the site for the Shands Cancer Hospital—across the street from its existing Gainesville facility, and chose to install a system at the new site for a proof-of-concept test. While the initial interest had been to track computers on wheeled carts, Kowal says, his team determined that it made more sense to first test the solution within an enclosed environment (rather than throughout an entire hospital), and thus selected the emergency department in the new south tower. In 2010, the group applied AeroScout RFID tags to defibrillators and other equipment, for a total of 250 tagged items. Each tag's ID number was linked to that item's description and serial number in the AeroScout MobileView software. Individuals searching for a particular piece of equipment could input its description in the software and view its location on a hospital map.

After using the system for approximately six months, Kowal's team found that there was a 98 percent reduction in search time for missing items when the RFID tags were deployed. Hospital management then proceeded to install the technology within its north tower, as well as at a third location known as the medical plaza. The expansion occurred at the end of 2011 and early 2012, Kowal says.

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