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RFID Helps St. Joseph's Keep an Eye on Cold Storage

The N.Y. hospital is using an AeroScout solution to track the temperatures inside its refrigerators, thereby reducing labor costs and improving the safety of the blood, vaccines and other items stored within.
By Claire Swedberg
Each 2.4 GHz sensor node transmits a unique ID number and temperature data to the closest Wi-Fi access point. The information is then routed to the hospital's back-end system, where MobileView software links the ID number and temperature reading with the specific refrigerator, and stores a temperature record that can be accessed by the hospital staff, as well as by Joint Commission inspectors, if they pay a visit to the facility. What's more, the software sends an alert if the temperature deviates beyond the acceptable threshold, though it can be customized to do so only after a specified number of warm readings. In this way, if the sensors detect a warm temperature when a refrigerator door is briefly opened, it does not send a false alert.

Chuck Fennell
"The pilot went according to plan," Fennell says, "and we didn't have any false alarms." In fact, the system did not set off any alarms at all, which meant the refrigerators were working properly. The staff is pleased with the new system, he adds, noting, "The minute we go to a hospital unit and tell its staff they don't have to [record temperatures manually] anymore, they're very happy."

The next step is for the hospital to attach AeroScout RFID tags to other assets, then leverage the MobileView software to help its staff locate missing items and reduce theft. "To substantiate the investment we've already made in the MobileView software [by using it to track assets] is a no-brainer," Fennell states. He adds, "The minute we lit up with the software, we had 1,000 devices discovered," because the AeroScout system recognizes not only AeroScout tags but any Wi-Fi-enabled device.

"We didn't go into this expecting a documentable return on investment," Fennell says. Still, he adds, saving 10 minutes of time for dozens of employees, multiple times each day, is an advantage to the hospital as well as to its patients.

Other hospitals are also employing the AeroScout system to track temperatures and assets within their facilities (see Belgian Hospitals Use RFID to Track Temperatures, Assets, Patients).

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