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Piedmont Healthcare Expands RTLS to Six Hospitals

The solution, provided by Vizzia Technology, includes CenTrak's real-time location system to track equipment, as well as L-Com's Point Six Wi-Fi sensors to wirelessly measure and report refrigerator and freezer temperatures, in order to reduce spoilage.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 05, 2016

Piedmont Healthcare, one of Georgia's largest health-care systems, is expanding its use of a real-time location system (RTLS) that it first installed at its Atlanta hospital five years ago, to track the locations of its assets in real time. The company has since deployed the solution at Piedmont Henry Hospital, in Stockbridge, Piedmont Fayette Hospital, in Fayetteville, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, in Jasper, and Piedmont Newnan Hospital, in Newnan. Next year, the firm plans to take the RTLS live at Piedmont Newton Hospital, in Covington.

This year, Piedmont Healthcare began using the RTLS for its specialty bed rental operation, newly launched to share its beds among its hospitals, thereby saving it the rental fees it previously paid to outside companies. The solution consists of CenTrak tags and access points (devices used to receive the tags' RF transmissions), as well as Vizzia Technologies' software platform, residing on the hospital's server.

Piedmont's Steven Kelley
Piedmont is also using wireless sensors to monitor the temperatures of refrigerators and freezers. For temperature management, Vizzia provides L-Com's Point Six sensors, with the sensor data managed on Vizzia's software platform.

Piedmont Atlanta is the largest and most complex of the six hospitals that the company currently owns. The facility had processes in place to manage equipment used by nurses, says Steven Kelley, Piedmont's manager of diagnostic imaging repair and biomedical engineering, but still found that the items were not always available when the biomed department or nurses needed them. Each of approximately 25 nurse stations has clean and dirty rooms in which movable medical equipment (MMEs), such as pumps and respiratory equipment, should be stored. In the dirty room, the items awaited cleaning, while in the clean room they were ready for patient use. Because equipment could not always be located, the company sought a solution from Vizzia, which provided an EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID system in 2006.

With the UHF RFID deployment, Vizzia affixed passive EPC Gen 2 tags above doorways, as well as to equipment. The unique ID number encoded to each tag was linked to the corresponding item's serial number and description, while the tag above each door was linked to that room or location. Workers then used Zebra Technologies MC90xx series handheld readers to access data regarding equipment, as well as to read tags and update location information. For instance, employees read the tag above the doorway to a particular room, such as the cleaning area, then the tag of each piece of equipment being put into that room.

On a daily basis, says Andrew Halasz, Vizzia's president and CEO, Piedmont or Vizzia team members would make MME deliveries and pickups. When doing so, they would take their handheld readers with them to continuously update the inventory data.

In 2011, the hospital transitioned to an RTLS solution that replaced the UHF RFID system. "The reason behind that was to further refine asset-management processes and track more active items, like wheelchairs and gurneys," Halasz states, "while also enabling future process improvement initiatives, like staff workflow enhancement."

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