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Fortis Escorts Heart Institute Manages Outpatients Via RFID

The South Delhi, India, medical facility deployed a real-time location system to reduce wait times for testing.
By Bob Violino
Jan 28, 2013—The Fortis Escorts Heart Institute (FEHI), in South Delhi, India, manages more than 14,000 admissions and 7,000 emergency cases annually, with roughly 300 outpatients visiting the hospital daily for tests. Managing the movements of outpatients from one area to the next within the hospital has been inherently challenging, because wait times within one department, such as ultrasound, might be much longer than in others, says Gunjan Verma, the senior manager and head of FEHI's Patient Care Services section.

This, Verma says, was unacceptable for a hospital recognized worldwide as a center of excellence providing the latest technology in cardiac bypass surgery, minimally invasive surgery (robotics), interventional cardiology, non-invasive cardiology, pediatric cardiology and pediatric cardiac surgery. Its advanced laboratories perform a range of investigative tests in the fields of nuclear medicine, radiology, biochemistry, hematology, transfusion medicine and microbiology. The use of cutting-edge technology, she adds, is a big part of FEHI's culture, extending beyond medical technology.

The system includes battery-powered Ekahau Wi-Fi tags that outpatients wear around their neck.
Several years ago, FEHI set out to automate processes to reduce outpatients' wait times. After researching and evaluating a number of solutions, the hospital recently deployed an RFID-based real-time location system (RTLS) solution that has enabled the organization to realize its objectives.

Getting Started
FEHI's managers determined that automating the process of monitoring outpatient location within the hospital would resolve existing bottlenecks, increase efficiencies and ultimately improve care, by ensuring that patients would not have to stay in any particular department longer than necessary. Initially, the organization tried a bar-code system, but the technology "failed miserably," Verma says, because it required too much additional manpower. It was "very difficult to handle as it [needs] line of sight," she explains. "That was very time-consuming."

Verma says she had been conducting a great deal of research about RFID systems, and had evaluated a number of company case studies involving the technology. "We then set up an evaluation committee comprising all experienced professionals from various departments," she says, "and [met] every month to discuss" various RFID technologies. In addition to Verma, the group included the hospital's head of operations, the medical director, a biomedical officer, technology officers, an innovation officer, the head of the medical checkup department and a finance director.
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