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At Wayne Memorial, RFID Pays for Itself

The hospital's new RFID system uses active UHF RFID tags to track about 1,300 medical devices.
By Beth Bacheldor
Apr 03, 2007Wayne Memorial Hospital has saved more than $300,000 in expenses, thanks to a new RFID system it uses to track about 1,000 medical devices throughout the hospital.

The Goldsboro, N.C., hospital is using an RFID-based real-time location system (RTLS) from RadarFind to keep tabs on infusion pumps, diagnostics machines, blood warmers, computers on wheels, wheelchairs and other equipment. Wayne Memorial first installed a beta version of the system in the spring of 2006, and went live with a full-scale implementation in November.

Wayne Memorial wasn't necessarily looking for an equipment-tracking system when RadarFind met with hospital officials more than a year ago. Still, says Tom Bradshaw, the hospital's COO, RadarFind's system made sense. "I had an appreciation for it," he says, "because at our hospital, we did often have trouble locating equipment, particularly in order to perform maintenance and inspections." In fact, when Bradshaw's son was a patient at the hospital, Bradshaw checked the infusion pump's tag and discovered its inspection had expired. At the time, Bradshaw was paying more attention to his son's recovery, so he waited until his son was discharged before visiting the manager of the hospital's clinical engineering department, which maintains, inspects and repairs all the electronic medical equipment. "I went to the department manager," Bradshaw recalls, "and his response was, 'You found it. I have been looking for that pump for months.'"
Now, with several months' experience using the RTLS system, Wayne Memorial will likely exceed the 1,000 tags it currently uses. "We are getting more and more requests," Bradshaw says, "particularly from the nurses who want us to tag more equipment."

The system leverages RadarFind's active UHF RFID transponders, which operate at 902 to 928 MHz and use multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) communication. MIMO is a wireless communication technique utilizing multiple analog signal paths among multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver to transmit data. The RadarFind asset tags include unique ID numbers and also feature switches for nurses to trigger, indicating whether an asset is in use, needs cleaning or is ready for use. A specially designed asset tag for wheelchairs can also use electric-field sensing capabilities to determine if a patient is in a wheelchair.

RadarFind executives say the tags have a battery lifespan of about seven or eight years. They communicate with readers that typically get plugged into standard AC outlets in patient rooms or other areas hospitals want to monitor.

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