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Bon Secours Richmond Finds RFID Saves $2 Million Annually

The company is using a real-time location system from GE Healthcare to track assets, as well as certain surgery patients, and expects to expand the system to additional operating rooms.
By Claire Swedberg
With the OR portion of the system, each patient being admitted for surgery at St. Mary's is provided with an RFID/IR AgileTrac tag attached to an armband, along with a brochure explaining how the system will be used to track his movement through the surgery and recovery rooms. Once a patient enters the pre-operative area, Santini explains, the AgileTrac Asset Manager software determines that individual's arrival, and links the unique ID number on his armband's tag with his identity and medical records. An alert can then be sent to any staff members required to help prepare that patient for surgery. During the preparation process, workers utilize the touch screen to indicate the completion of various steps. The anesthesiologist, for instance, presses a prompt on the screen after meeting with the patient.

When the patient enters the operating room, the system records that action as well. It also documents his or her removal from the OR, indicating that the room must now be readied for the next patient. The software can also link the patient with all equipment used during his or her procedure, providing information that could prove useful later—for example, in the case of an infection.

Bon Secours Richmond expects the system, once expanded, to increase the number of patients treated in operating rooms, as well as in emergency rooms, by increasing the efficiency of equipment and patient movement, and by decreasing the length of time required to prepare an OR between patients. With the AgileTrac software, the hospital staff can be alerted automatically as soon as an OR is available, and can then begin cleaning the room and setting up instruments for the next scheduled surgery.

The satisfaction of Secours Richmond Health's staff may be the greatest gain, Santini says. The organization participates in Gallup polls to gauge its employees' satisfaction, she says. "Our nursing staff satisfaction is the highest in the nation of those polled by Gallup," she states. One question asked on the poll is whether the equipment and supplies the staff requires is available when needed. "Employee satisfaction is very important to us. We work really hard to make sure employees are comfortable and enjoy their job."

Although the exact date has yet to be determined, once Bon Secours begins providing AgileTrac tags to all patients who come to its hospitals' emergency departments, the facilities will be more easily able to maintain a commitment to guarantee a "zero-wait" time for emergency patients, a one-hour visit for those leaving after treatment and a two-hour maximum wait for those requiring a hospital bed. The system will help the hospitals identify bottlenecks, Santini says, and will send alerts when a patient has been waiting for a procedure for an excessive length of time.

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