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Wake Forest Baptist Builds Its Own RFID Solution for Radiology Vest Inspection

The medical center, which plans to market the technology commercially, now uses passive UHF tags to track more than 850 vests, thereby making its inspection process more efficient.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 29, 2013

Locating X-ray protection vests for inspections and maintenance was an arduous task at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center before the facility implemented a solution consisting of passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, a handheld reader and software to manage each vest's location and inspection data. The system, which can read a tag sewn into a radiology vest at a distance of up to 20 feet, was developed by the hospital's management team to improve efficiency related to monitoring the vests' inspection status and location.

The medical center, located in Winston-Salem, N.C., had already been employing radio frequency identification for a variety of purposes, says Ronald Noel, Wake Forest Baptist's receiving manager and the developer of multiple RFID systems at the institution. For example, he explains, it first began testing various real-time location systems (RTLS) to track assets in 2005. It then installed the technology in 2009 to track vaccines stored within refrigerators and freezers, as well as to locate assets throughout its 4.1-million-square-foot facility (see Wake Forest Med Center Launches Vaccine-Tracking RTLS).

Wake Forest Baptist's Stuart Grogan

The radiology vest solution, known as Pulse Finder RFID Enhanced, was conceived by Stuart Grogan, Wake Forest Baptist's radiology equipment manager, who says he was tired of the time-consuming process of locating and maintaining the hospital's more than 850 vests.

The Joint Commission requires that radiology vests be inspected at least once annually. To meet this directive, members of the radiology staff must identify which vests are due for inspection, by looking through their histories on a spreadsheet and then setting out to locate each one. This requires walking through as many as 30 or 40 storage locations—some of which are in different buildings—since the vests do not always remain at one location. Personnel then inspect every vest and record what has been done on a spreadsheet.

The Pulse Finder RFID Enhanced solution makes the process considerably more efficient, the medical center reports. Software created by ScanOnline, an automatic-identification solutions provider in Albemarle, N.C., is loaded onto a Motorola MC3190-Z handheld reader. The device has a Wi-Fi connection to a laptop situated on a cart that accompanies the inspector making the rounds. Pulse Finder software running on the laptop stores all data regarding the vests, as a standalone system.


John Williams 2013-08-21 08:48:30 AM
Amazing. The exact same system you reported on earlier this year that Odin Technologies and Burlington Medical Supplies have patented.
Hank Goddard 2013-09-20 07:00:02 AM
@johnwilliams I believe the difference between the two solutions is that Wake Forest took it a step further than Burlington by having the software notify the user if it "sees" an apron with an open inspection requirement. As far as I can tell, the Burlington solution is nothing more than a very simple mobile CMMS system enabled by passive RF...something that companies have been doing for many years. I cannot imagine that that is patentable. All of that said, my company, #stcroixsystems, released a product over two years ago that does exactly what Wake Forrest did. We filed for a patent for it.

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