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RFID Tracks One Million Health-Care Assets in United Arab Emirates

OgTech's UHF RFID solution enables the nation's Ministry of Health to manage the locations of its equipment, IT assets and mechanical gear throughout 147 facilities.
By Claire Swedberg

Staff members can now carry an ATID handheld UHF RFID reader that captures the tag ID of every tagged asset within a range of about 5 meters. Since each tag is linked to an asset's own description and ID, the tag read updates the facility's digital record of each item and its location. The firm can conduct audits within a shorter period of time than it previously could with non-RFID-based counting, by simply having a worker carry the reader around the facility from room to room, capturing information about what is stored or in use at each location.

The handheld unit can also locate missing items or identify a specific piece of equipment. Personnel can input the item they seek in the ATID handheld, then walk around the facility or room until the reader detects that asset's tag. Users can follow the closest route to that item, based on the sound notification from the reader. "Sometimes," Ezz El Din says, "they simply need to do an audit, and they can do this easily at any time. The process is quite dynamic."

Khaled Mohamed Ezz El Din
The second phase of the project includes fixed readers. UHF RFID portals from Feig Electronic are being installed at pilot locations at hospital entrances and exits. The system will automatically capture the unique ID of every asset that leaves or returns to the facility. In that way, if an item is being moved in an unauthorized manner, the OgTech software will provide a notification to management or trigger an alarm.

Those deploying the system first are mostly larger hospitals, which health centers and remote clinics—some with only 100 or 150 assets—are following. With a deployment of this size, Ezz El Din notes, "One of the challenges we are dealing with is big data. To do the data migration in their system has been very challenging," he adds, as the technology company built the solution to make the integration process easy.

While the initial project is isolated to asset management, the next application the ministry is discussing with OgTech involves tracking medications. Many of the medicines used at the facilities are stored in warehouses before being shipped out. By applying an RFID tag to each bottle, vial or package of pharmaceuticals and installing a combination of fixed and handheld readers, the ministry hopes to have a better understanding of where drugs are located, when they are due to expire, when they require replenishment and under what circumstance they might end up missing. Since the system was taken live, the MOH reports that it has made inventory data more reliable, and audits faster and less labor-intensive.

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