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Providence Health Center Calls Its RFID System an 'Eye-Opener'

The software has already helped the hospital uncover inefficient processes and better understand its staffing, patient and room needs.
By Beth Bacheldor
Mar 06, 2007Providence Health Center in Waco, Texas, has implemented a real-time locating system (RTLS) that leverages active RFID to track patients, staff and equipment. The hospital, part of the Providence Healthcare Network, wants to improve its patient and operational processes and better track medical devices.

Providence Health Center is using active RFID tags from Radianse, which operate at 433 MHz and communicate via a proprietary air-interface protocol to Radianse receivers. The receivers-small box-shaped devices typically mounted on the walls-plug into the hospital's local area network and relay the RFID data collected to a Radianse server.

Alan Carlson explains the Prospective Patient Flow Manager, which presents location data via 42-inch plasma displays in a hospital's general nursing units.

The hospital began installing the RTLS, including the cabling, back in June 2006. In October, the hospital started running the system in its 170-bed acute-care facility. Subsequent floors went live by the end of November.

So far, Providence Health Center has deployed nearly 500 receivers and ordered about 2,000 active tags with a battery life of up to seven years. The staff have been given 850 of the tags for them to wear. The remainder has been affixed to hospital equipment, such as beds, infusion pumps and wheelchairs.

Additionally, the hospital is ordering about 20,000 disposable tags that have a battery life of about 30 days. These will be attached to wristbands given to patients when they check into the hospital. Each tag has a unique ID number that will be associated with a patient in the hospital's admission, discharge and transfer (ADT) software. That software is integrated with the Radianse software, including the Prospective Patient Flow Manager, which helps the hospital track the location of staff, patients and assets. Other hospital systems, including the lab reporting and order management systems, are also integrated with this program.

The Prospective Patient Flow Manager displays the location data via two 42-inch plasma displays in each of the general nursing units—one for patient flow management and one for asset tracking—so that staff can easily view patient status throughout the hospital, locate assets and track staff.

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