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Ann Arbor VA Hospital Tracks Lab Supplies Via RFID

WaveMark's smart cabinets and read stations enable the Michigan medical center to monitor where its lab products are located, when they are used on a patient and when they may be due to expire.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 03, 2012VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System is employing WaveMark's RFID-enabled cabinets to track equipment used on patients at its cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology laboratories. The WaveMark solution provides the Michigan veterans hospital with real-time data regarding the use of goods stored on its shelves, as well as their status, such as pending expiration dates. That information is then shared across Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN) 11 hospitals, using Intelligent InSites' integrated software platform, as part of the VISN 11 contract with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services (see Veterans Affairs Implementing RTLS Across Seven Midwest Hospitals and How RFID Is Transforming VA Hospital Operations).

VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System is the first of several hospitals to utilize WaveMark technology within VISN 11. The John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, located in Detroit, has also installed the system this year, while the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, in Indianapolis, is currently in the process of deploying the smart cabinets within its own lab.

At VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Angie Hernandez, the hospital's logistics and supply manager, and Thomas Lewandowski, a registered radiologic technologist, use a WaveMark registration station.

WaveMark's smart cabinets have built-in 13.56 MHz RFID readers; the company employs readers complying with the ISO 15693 standard, with reader antennas installed on each shelf within the cabinet, in order to identify tagged stents, catheters and other medical goods stored inside, as well as standalone encoding or reading stations. In addition, WaveMark provides the software that manages the data, and displays that information for users through Intelligent InSites' real-time location system (RTLS) software platform on a VA-hosted server. By using this technology, says Angie Hernandez, the hospital's logistics and supply manager, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System has been able to attain visibility into the location of its equipment for use at its two labs, as well as reduce the risk of products expiring prior to use.

The solution was installed over the course of a single weekend in February 2012. All items valued at $50 or more were tagged with a passive high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz tag. WaveMark installed a total of 13 smart cabinets and two extended point of service (XPOS) stations for identifying goods as they are used in patient procedures, says Carola Endicott, WaveMark's senior VP of operations, who notes that WaveMark's solution uses a variety of RFID tags and readers to accommodate different product sizes and storage needs. The cabinets and XPOS stations transmit data to WaveMark's software on the hosted server via an Ethernet connection. Each XPOS station consists of a touchscreen computer, an RFID reader and a bar-code scanner.

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