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U.K.'s Newcastle NHS Trust Adopts RFID to Help Track Patient Records

Since the deployment in February, the trust has tagged 250,000 files and conducted more than a million read events using a UHF RFID solution from 6PM Group.
By Claire Swedberg

Staff members in the libraries or elsewhere throughout the hospital can also perform inventory checks, by placing a handheld reader into audit mode and walking through a room, passing shelved files or trolleys loaded with files, and obtain an updated location record for each file.

Since the system was installed three months ago, it has enabled a reduction in the amount of time that personnel spend in the libraries searching for files. "Staff have reported that pulling case notes is easier and quicker," Elder says, "as they are able to locate the case notes within a range of 15 to 25 case notes."

To date, the trust has tagged 250,000 of its 1.6 million paper-only patient records, and has performed more than one million iFIT read transactions. All other files will be tagged as they leave the library for use by clinicians as needed, while the remaining files not being used will eventually be archived offsite.

Next, the trust hopes to expand the system to provide greater location coverage in areas through which pass a high volume of files. It is also investigating whether iFIT could be used for tracking specimens in the pathology area, as well as medical devices hospital-wide. The tagged specimens or devices could be read using the same RFID reader portals and handhelds already deployed, and their locations could be stored in the existing iFIT software.

U.K. hospitals are all in the process of digitizing medical records, Wightman reports. However, until that lengthy and costly process is completed, they have been seeking automated systems to manage the thousands of records that they must track physically. For that, he says, passive UHF RFID has been a popular choice.

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