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Emory Healthcare Tracks Its Pumps

Georgia's largest health-care system is using active RFID tags to track the status and location of 2,400 infusion pumps, on and off the premises.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
May 15, 2007Emory Healthcare, Georgia's largest health-care system, is deploying GE's IntelliMotion RFID asset-tracking system to improve management and utilization of infusion pumps and other high-value equipment.

IntelliMotion is comprised of 2.45 GHz active RFID tags compliant with the newly ratified ISO 24730 standard (see ISO Ratifies 2.4 GHz RTLS Standard). The platform is manufactured by real-time location system platform provider WhereNet, along with WhereLAN location sensors, which act as tag interrogators and locators, and WherePort exciters, which serve to wake up WhereNet tags in a dormant, energy-saving mode. GE sells the WhereNet hardware under its IntelliMotion brand, coupled with GE's IntelliMotion Web-based asset-tracking software.

Emory University Hospital, Emory Crawford Long Hospital and Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital each have 800 infusion pumps that have already been tagged and are presently being tracked. Arnold Barros, director of Emory Healthcare's anesthesia services, says that before using RFID to track the items, the hospitals knew only, after performing regular manual inventory counts, how many used pumps were in the soiled-utility areas of each hospital, and how many cleaned pumps were in stock and ready for issuing to patients. What they didn't know was how many pumps were being used, how many had been used but had not yet been brought to the soiled-utility area or how many might have been removed from the facilities (which is not supposed to happen, but does).

This information was inadequate for hospital staff to feel confident they had all the infusion pumps they might need. As a result, inventory managers often rented additional infusion pumps to supplement their in-house stocks, so they would be ready to respond to nurses' requests for the pumps. Under the new system, RFID interrogators installed at the doorways to the soiled-utility rooms record when tagged pumps enter or leave the rooms. IntelliMotion pulls this data into inventory lists detailing how many pumps are in the utility areas at any given time. Location sensors are also installed in the entrance and exit points of the inventory areas, providing an inventory of tagged pumps available for use. This, says Barros, helps keep the hospitals' inventory records more accurate and more quickly updated.

The hospitals now have a level of asset visibility they never had before. Location sensors installed at chokepoints and other strategic locations across the hospital wards read the WhereNet tags as the pumps are brought into service in those wards. Location sensors also read the tags as the pumps are removed from those areas.

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