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Tufts Medical Center Saved $1.5 Million With RFID

The hospital's cloud-based inventory-management system has reduced inventory and purchasing costs by providing better data about items consumed within its procedure rooms.
By Mark Roberti
"We saw a lot of overstocking because technicians didn't want to risk running out of an item," Hubisz explained. "As a result, we had a number of product write-offs over time. We did have some products on consignment with our suppliers, but we had no control over inventory. We did not have a good handle on what we were consuming and what was on the shelf, and we were at a cost disadvantage because the suppliers had all the data."

With the WaveMark system, a worker stocking shelves attaches an RFID tag to each product received, and then uses a WaveMark tagging station to scan that item's bar code. The solution encodes the tag with that item's lot number, serial number and expiration date, after which the staff member places the tagged goods within a WaveMark smart cabinet, and the inventory information is uploaded to the cloud.

Once an item is removed from a cabinet, its RFID tag is no longer read by the cabinet's built-in WaveMark RFID reader, and that item is then decremented from inventory. The information is also forwarded to the clinical system within the lab, so the lab's inventory-management and documentation system has that data.

"When we are ready to place an order, we can log on to the system and it shows us what was used, what our par levels are, and recommends what we should order," Hubisz stated. "We have the ability to manually adjust the system if we know that we will need more or less of an item. We also added an additional step for added security, requiring approval before every order is placed."

Orders are fed into Tufts MC's materials-management system, which generates a purchase order and places the order. The PO number is transmitted back to the RFID system, so the technician that placed the order can see that it was placed and what its PO number is.

The solution allows the medical center to analyze its inventory levels across the various areas within the CardioVascular Center. Tufts MC holds a weekly meeting with representatives from the catherization, electrophysiology and interventional radiology labs, to consider standardizing similar products used within different areas of the facility, as well as trying to better manage inventory as a whole.

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