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Tan Tock Seng Hospital Uses RFID to Take Patient Temperatures

One of Singapore's busiest health-care facilities finds that the system improves patient care, reduces labor costs and provides better clinical data.
By Dave Friedlos
Jan 28, 2009Tan Tock Seng Hospital first rolled out radio frequency identification technology in 2007 to track more than 1,200 patients throughout its facility, and to be able to locate them immediately when required for testing. Now, the hospital is expanding the system to include a 3-centimeter-wide (1.2-inch-wide) active ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag taped to a patient's abdomen, to monitor that individual's body temperature and detect serious infections without waking him or her.

Yong Keng Kwang, deputy director of Tan Tock Seng Hospital's nursing service, says the hospital is one of the country's busiest, with more than 1,200 patients at any particular time, and with a daily occupancy rate of 90 percent.

The ThermoSensor tag is taped to a patient's abdomen to monitor body temperature.

"We believed that real-time patient tracking would help remove inefficiency associated with bed allocation and inter-departmental communication, and improve patients' access for admission," Yong says. "Previously, bed allocation relied heavily on regular three-way communication between the bed-management unit, emergency department and wards, but with RFID, information flows between the three parties are automatic and less dependent on verbal communication."

In 2007, Tan Tock Seng chose Singapore-based vendor Cadi Scientific to roll out the patient-tracking system as it offered local support—an important consideration when trialing new technology. Some 556 Cadi SmartNode RFID interrogators were deployed throughout the hospital, and battery-powered SmartTags operating at 868.4 MHz were added to patients' identification bracelets in order to track those individuals as they moved around the facility.

The system provided a number of benefits, Yong indicates, from increased staff efficiency to improved communication, faster bed turnover and reduced patient waiting times.

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