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Lady of Lourdes Medical Center Implements RFID-Based Asset Tracking

The New Jersey hospital expects to significantly reduce the time spent searching for equipment, as well as cut equipment rental and replacement costs and curtail the spread of infection.
By Beth Bacheldor
In addition, the system will be utilized to help the hospital determine when a nursing unit lacks a sufficient quantity of certain items, such as infusion pumps, to effectively treat patients. "Support staff can then proactively redeploy equipment back to the unit so it's available for use when needed," says Hetu.

Another RadarFind customer, Wayne Memorial Hospital, says it has already reduced its expenses by more than $300,000 by tracking about 1,000 medical devices throughout its facility (see At Wayne Memorial, RFID Pays for Itself).

Our Lady of Lourdes has its sights set on numerous benefits gained from the RTLS, including a significant reduction in the time nurses spend hunting down equipment, ultimately increasing, as Hetu explains, "the time available for a nurse to be at the bedside caring for their patients." Because rental equipment can be located and retuned more quickly, the hospital will be able to reduce rental fees. "Currently, it's difficult to find rental equipment once it arrives in the medical center, so we pay rental fees much longer than we should," she adds. Moreover, Hetu says she believes the system will help cut replacement costs for lost equipment, because it will be set to send e-mail and other alerts when equipment is moved into unauthorized or unexpected areas, such as into the laundry area or off the hospital premises.

The RadarFind system, the deployment of which began last week and will continue through February, will store historical information regarding the various locations where equipment has been. That historical data will be used to help the hospital refine its processes to help control patient infections. "When coupled with details from our infection-control system," Hetu says, "we'll not only be able to tell where patients with infections had been, we'll also be able to tell exactly which pieces of equipment they've used. This allows us to quickly focus even more intensely on cleaning devices that had been in contact with infected patients, and help to stop the spread of infections."

According to Hetu, the hospital anticipates expanding the system to track patients, once the equipment-tracking functionality is deployed and the hospital has confirmed its value. "We can gain invaluable insight into our process flows and any potential bottlenecks by tracking patients throughout their inpatient stays," she says. "Once we have the tracking data, we can do some powerful process improvement activities and become a more efficient health-care organization."

Additionally, the Lourdes Health System has allocated funding in 2008 to expand RadarFind to a second hospital—the Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, located in Willingboro, N.J.

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