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Carolinas Medical Center Expands Its RFID Deployment

The hospital has added 26 RFID-enabled medical supply cabinets to its cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology labs, helping it cut inventory costs and improve operations.
By Beth Bacheldor
Chadwick says the initial implementation proved RFID and iRISupply were up to the task. Shortly after deploying the technology, the hospital conducted a study over a 90-day period, comparing what was manually tracked by staff members and what was automatically tracked by the RFID-enabled cabinets. "In that time," Chadwick notes, "we found about 10 to 15 balloon catheters and three drug-eluting stents that had not been recorded." And from its first implementation of iRISupply, CHVI has been able to save nearly $65,000 annually by more accurately charging for the medical supplies, and by having inventory that meets the hospital's needs.

CHVI hopes to advance its RFID implementation by integrating it with its inventory and replenishment systems, so that data from the iRISupply system will be automatically downloaded into both applications. Currently, the staff must manually compare a printed inventory report provided by iRISupply with records from the hospital's own inventory system, then make any necessary changes. Integration of the RFID, inventory and replenishment systems would enable the hospital to automate ordering—according to iIRSupply's inventory counts—up to three times per day. The hospital hopes to complete this integration in 2008.

Not only are the RFID-enabled cabinets saving the hospital money by improving inventory tracking, but Chadwick says the system also allows CHVI employees more opportunity to do their jobs well. "The reception from staff has been very good. They know this will make their jobs easier, and will allow them to spend more time on patient care, which is what they want to do," Chadwick says. "Most people get into health care because they want to take care of people."

In addition, CHS is in the process of implementing a Wi-Fi-based RFID real-time location system (RTLS) to track thousands of medical devices, such as infusion pumps and ventilators (see Carolinas HealthCare System Deploying RTLS at Its 20 Hospitals). Other hospitals that have deployed Mobile Aspects' iRISupply medical cabinets include King's Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) in Ashland, Ky. (see King's Daughters Expands Its RFID Tracking System) and The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Collin County, Texas (see New Heart Hospital Plans Major RFID Operation).

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