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RFID Cabinets Help Saint Joseph's Hospital Buy in Bulk

The Atlanta medical center is using a WaveMark solution to track its inventory of cardiac products, and their usage on patients.
By Claire Swedberg
The resulting installation, which went live on Aug. 1, 2009, allows the hospital to receive alerts when inventory levels reach a predetermined minimum amount, as well as view the shelf's contents in real time. By integrating the WaveMark server data with its own purchasing system, the hospital is also able to order new products through the WaveMark software, and store that purchasing information on the WaveMark server, as well as on its own back-end system.

Having the system in place helps the hospital accurately charge patients for items used, purchase products at the appropriate time and track expiration dates, and also allows purchasing in bulk whenever appropriate, by giving management a better understanding of when inventory has become low enough to justify a large replacement order. At the same time, Franke says, the system reduces the need to overstock inventory to compensate for a lack of dependable data regarding what is or is not in stock. "We have saved quite a bit of money in bulk purchasing," he states.

Chuck Naylor, the hospital's inventory and finance manager of cardiology, who orders new products when they are needed, says he uses the system daily to confirm which items have been removed and which need to be purchased. He then places those purchase orders through the WaveMark system, and that data is sent directly to Saint Joseph's purchasing system. "Now I can sit at my computer," he says, "and, in a matter of minutes, see what needs to be ordered, and place those orders." Naylor also utilizes the system to track expirations by receiving alerts when items near their expiration dates, or by running his own search of items soon slated to expire. Previously, that function required staff members to go to each shelf and visually inspect every label.

Initially, WaveMark tagged approximately 3,500 items for the hospital. Today, according to Colleen Terry, the firm's director of marketing, Saint Joseph's staff applies tags to any new products as they arrive from the distributor.

In the future, the hospital intends to tag lower-value items in order to save additional time that previously would have required employees to manually write the stock-keeping unit (SKU) number, or other data about an item being used, on paper, or to input that information into the computer.

The hospital pays a monthly service fee for use of the cabinets and readers, as well as for access to WaveMark's server. Franke says he expects the facility to gain a return on investment at a rate of two or three times the cost of the service.

USER COMMENTS

Ozden Cakici 2010-01-25 03:07:34 PM
Healthcare RFID I and my colleagues have an article about a very similar situation where we identify and quantify possible cost savings in inventory management at a radiology department. Impressive savings.

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