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Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin Tracks Asset Locations Via Passive EPC Tags

The Texas hospital is the first to use a low-priced solution from U.S Med-Equip that involves bar-code scanners, handheld UHF readers and a hosted server.
By Claire Swedberg
To date, McAdams says, 310 assets have been tagged, all of which can now be accounted for via the Star Trax system; previously many items ended up missing. He says he recently received an update from the Star Trax software, indicating that 15 IV pumps were missing, and was able to use the reader to locate all of them. Because he can read the tags through walls, he adds, he can determine whether an asset is within a patient room while he is in a nearby hallway, and can then contact the appropriate nurse for that patient, in order to retrieve the item. Soon, McAdams reports, the hospital plans to tag other assets as well, such as telemetry modules and wheelchairs.

In addition, US Med-Equip is in the process of conducting a proof-of-concept test using two Motorola FX7400 or FX9500 fixed readers in the hospital. One reader will be installed at the entrance to the facility's garbage chute, the other at the laundry room. The facility had previously been challenged by assets becoming lost in linens, bedding or items destined for disposal, and thus being accidentally thrown into the garbage or sent through the laundry. Thanks to the RFID system, any tagged item that passes through the portal would now be detected by the fixed reader, which could then sound an alert to warn workers that a tagged asset had entered an unauthorized area.

The RFID solution has benefited Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin in several ways, the hospital reports. The system enables staff members to locate equipment more easily, and acts as a deterrent to hoarding, since hidden items can now be pinpointed. What's more, because the reader can interrogate tags from up to 15 or 20 feet away, the staff can detect that an asset is located within a patient's room from the hallway, without having to disturb that patient by walking into his or her room and rummaging for equipment.

"For the last nine months, we have achieved an average utilization of 79 percent compared to industry averages of 35 to 40 percent," Pandher states. "As a result, the hospital did not have to rent any of these items, even during peak times."

The hosted solution that US Med-Equip is offering customers is charged on a monthly basis. According to Pandher, the price is about 60 to 70 percent less than a typical RTLS solution, on average.

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