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Spectrum Health's Meijer Heart Center Tracks Stents

Using passive 125 kHz RFID tags, the system has raised inventory-management accuracy to nearly 100 percent, while also reducing the chance for missed billing.
By Claire Swedberg
When a nurse requires stents for a procedure, such as a coronary intervention, she first keys in her ID number or swipes her ID card using a device attached to the cabinet. The device's screen lists the patients in the hospital database. The nurse then selects the name of the patient for whom she is retrieving one or more stents, and the door unlocks. She removes the stents from the shelf and closes the cabinet. The system then provides the stent ID numbers, along with the patient information, to the hosted Pyxis software, which forwards that information to the hospital's billing system (to initiate billing for that patient's stents) as well as to the inventory-management system.

If some of the stents are not used, the nurse inputs her identification once more, selects the patient's name and places the unused items back on the shelf. The data is then sent via the central server to the billing software, which credits the patient for those unused stents.

If specific items have been used, the data is also sent to the hospital's inventory-management system, which can then automatically reorder stents that need replenishment. The Pyxis software can also send alerts indicating that some items in the cabinet are nearing their expiration date, and employees can then locate those stents and arrange them in such a way that they are the next to be used.

"I like it; I see a lot of potential benefit for this technology," Karam says, noting that he has not yet been able to quantify the savings associated with tracking inventory and billing with the system. "I can validate that inventory is 100 percent accurate."

The system also saves staff members from having to spend time filling out paper forms indicating which items were used. That process was time-consuming and allowed the opportunity for billing mistakes.

"I would like to see it expanded to other products," Karam says, "so that we can track other high-value items." CareFusion is currently in the process of developing an appropriately sized and shaped tag for the packaging of those other assets.

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