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RFID Helps York Improve Patient Safety, Satisfaction

A Wi-Fi-based system enables the 580-bed Pennsylvania hospital to better manage its assets, allowing its staff to focus more on patients than on equipment.
By Claire Swedberg
Each tag transmits its unique ID number, which is linked to data regarding the item to which is attached. That information is stored in AeroScout's MobileView software, running on one of the hospital's computer servers. In addition, MobileView enables the facility to locate other Wi-Fi-enabled items, such as laptops and IP phones. If the hospital chooses to do so, it can assign details related to those items, and include them in the tracking system.

At the end of 2008, Wellspan installed some of AeroScout's temperature-monitoring tags in its refrigerators and freezers, according to Joel Cook, AeroScout's health-care solutions marketing director. The hospital plans to install sensor tags in additional refrigerators in the future, he says.

"We are required to take daily refrigerator temperatures for medication refrigerators," Noll states. "This is a manual process, and the data sheets are kept on each floor presently. This solution will provide an electronic data-collection method, along with the fact that the data is available through the system."

The hospital currently has 1,100 items tagged, and is also tracking approximately 50 non-tagged Wi-Fi devices, such as computers on wheels and IP phones.

The system has allowed the hospital to recover some expensive items, Noll says, such as new beds and telemetry packs lost within the facility. Without the system, he says, these items might have been replaced by the biomedical department, thereby costing the hospital tens of thousands of dollars. But the greatest benefit thus far, he notes, is the reduction of time staff members spend trying to locate items. "This is not a cost savings," he says, "since we would be paying staff anyway. It translates more to patient safety and satisfaction, by allowing our staff to focus on patient needs rather than equipment needs."

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