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Veterans Affairs Implementing RTLS Across Seven Midwest Hospitals
The facilities, located in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, are installing six different types of real-time location systems, as well as passive RFID tags and other auto-ID technologies, with all data managed by Intelligent InSites software on a single platform.
Intelligent InSites' temperature-monitoring application will gather data from temperature and humidity sensor tags via TempSys' CheckPoint solution. It will then automatically and remotely monitor conditions within coolers, and track the food, pharmaceuticals and supplies and equipment being stored in them.
The deployment, Ruark says, is unique, given the variety of systems providing data to a single customer. "It's a bit unusual to have so many active RTLS technologies at once," he states, "but it does demonstrate the value of having open and flexible RTLS software." RTLS data is received and processed by the Intelligent InSites software, and access to the applications and information is then made available to all users across the VISN, based on their particular password privileges. If authorized, staff members can view not only in which department an item they seek is located, but also in which hospital. What's more, the software enables the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to perform a variety of analyses to solve problems related to missing equipment, optimal inventory levels, broken items, or cleaning and sterilization records.
During a trial of the solution at an Indianapolis hospital, McDonald witnessed several use cases that he had not initially expected. For example, he says, when a tagged bed was reported broken, the hospital's biomedical engineering department was able to track where that bed had been—not only at the time that it was reported broken, but from that point forward. Thus, the hospital could determine whether the bed had been taken to be repaired and returned to service. Without the system, McDonald says, staff members would have had to walk through the facility's rooms until finding the appropriate bed, and then try to ascertain whether it had been repaired.
VISN 11 expects that with the full rollout of its enterprise-wide RTLS solution, efficiency based on knowing the location and status of equipment will increase, as will hospitals' ability to ensure that inventory is maintained at appropriate levels.
Similar RTLS rollouts are expected to take place at other Veterans Integrated Service Networks sites. With a national RTLS rollout in mind, the VA officially announced, in June 2012, that HP Enterprise Services has been awarded a $550 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract for an RTLS solution (see RFID News Roundup: Veterans Affairs Awards $543 Million RTLS Contract to HP to Cover All VA Hospitals, Clinics). The IDIQ contract was built off best practices and lessons learned based on what VISN 11 has already completed, according to a VHA official, who adds that the national contract is separate and unrelated to that of VISN 11.
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