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By Beth Bacheldor

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Implements RFID Tracking

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, one of the largest acute hospital trusts in England, has selected Harland Simon to supply a Stanley Healthcare real-time location system (RTLS) to help improve the management of mobile medical devices.

Stanley Healthcare's RTLS uses Wi-Fi networks to provide real-time updates regarding the statuses and locations of more than 1,500 devices at the hospital trust. Starting with fast-moving equipment, such as volumetric infusion pumps, bladder scanners and procedure ultrasounds, devices will be tracked with an accuracy of 3 to 5 meters (9.8 to 16.4 feet) across three main sites: Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital Boston, and Grantham and District Hospital.

The RTLS solution utilizes battery-powered RFID tags that transmit unique ID numbers via the Wi-Fi protocol. Each device to be tracked is fitted with an active Wi-Fi RFID tag that broadcasts its unique ID at pre-set intervals. The hospital's own Wi-Fi network infrastructure picks up the signals, and the data is then sent to a central database, which calculates each tagged device's current location. Clinical personnel at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust will use a simple pictorial user search screen to help locate equipment quickly and free up valuable time for patient care.

Key to the implementation by Harland Simon was the integration with the trust's own equipment inventory database, known as MEMS. This means that location data for every device is available to clinical engineering staff via MEMS, according to Harland Simon, and that there is no need for dual entry of device data. The new system, the company reports, will help improve visibility and utilization, in order to save capital expenditure and cut down on valuable time that workers spend locating medical equipment that has been moved with a patient.

"We needed a tracking solution to support the implementation of a virtual medical equipment library to serve our three hospitals" said Dr. Chris Hacking, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust's head of clinical engineering, in a prepared statement. "The solution provided by Harland Simon and Stanley Healthcare is ideal for us, as it uses our existing Wi-Fi system, and with 600 devices tagged so far, we are already seeing great results in locating equipment. We didn't realize just how much our equipment moves around within each hospital and between hospitals. The system will be a great help in getting transportable medical equipment to the right place at the right time for patient benefit."

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