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RFID Helps Hôtel-Dieu d'Amos Replenish Consumables

The Quebec hospital is using a system with passive HF RFID tags linked to specific medical supplies to request replenishment of those items.
By Claire Swedberg
In late 2010, Logi-ID installed 80 storage equipment cabinets at the hospital. Each of the cabinet's nine drawers is typically divided into four compartments—with two bins in the front, and two in back. In a label holder that clips onto the face of each front compartment, the hospital's staff can place a Logi-ID high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz passive RFID tag, compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, according to Jean-Philippe Racette, Logi-D's marketing coordinator. Each tag has a unique ID number linked to the supply item, Racette explains, such as a particular type of surgical glove. All of this data is stored in Logi-ID's software, which resides on the hospital's back-end system and integrates with its supply-management software.

The front compartments hold supplies that must be consumed first. Once a front bin becomes empty, a hospital employee removes the tag and its clip-on RFID label holder, and attaches it to a Logi-D RFID-enabled Lexan polycarbonate board—which measures either 14 inches by 10 inches, or 19 inches by 19 inches—mounted on the wall near the storage unit. The hospital is utilizing two of the larger boards, each of which can accommodate up to 50 tags placed in label holders on its surface. The board itself has a built-in Logi-ID reader that captures each tag's unique ID number and forwards that information to the Logi-DATA-iD software via a cabled connection. The system can also transmit via Wi-Fi.

The software then links the ID number with the supply that requires replenishment, and transmits that data to the hospital's inventory-management system, which alerts staff members to the replenishment order. In the meantime, the clinical staff uses supplies from the back compartment. Once new supplies are delivered, the material-management personnel remove all items from the back compartment and transfer them to the empty front section, and then place the newly delivered products in the now-empty back bin. The workers then detach the tag and its label holder from the replenishment board, fastening it to the face of the appropriate drawer's front bin.

The two-bin RFID replenishment system is providing Hôtel-Dieu d'Amos with several improvements over its previous system. Since the technology was installed, Labonville says, the hospital has been able to eliminate daily rounds by material-management personnel for the purpose of counting supplies. "Urgent orders"—those required in the event that supplies were completely consumed—are no longer necessary, he indicates, thereby ensuring that there are no delays due to missing supplies. And because the items are moved through this compartment-rotation system, the frequency of expired supplies that must be discarded is also reduced.

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