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RFID Furthers Operational Efficiency for New York Hospital

Northern Westchester Hospital is using a passive UHF RFID solution from Quake Global to identify the specific pod in which equipment is located.
By Claire Swedberg
May 02, 2017

Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) has launched a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID-based solution to identify where its assets are located within zones, thereby enabling it to improve efficiency and patient satisfaction. The technology, provided by Quake Global, allows the hospital to locate clean equipment or other assets within a particular zone or room in real time, and to use related analytics to improve processes.

NWH is a non-profit, 245-bed acute-care facility in Mount Kisco, N.Y. The hospital is a member of Northwell Health. It comprises 21 hospitals and more than 550 outpatient facilities, and employs 61,000 people.

An IV pump with an RFID tag
Before piloting and then launching the RFID system, NWH already had a unique set of business processes in place, as well as an interest in innovation. "This is a process-driven hospital," says David Stotland, NWH's director of biomedical engineering. "We're a surgically sophisticated and technologically advanced organization with a focus on patient and family engagement." Stotland came to the hospital in 2012 to help drive that technological effort, with a primary goal of patient satisfaction. "That is goal number one for us. It's the driving point for all our initiatives." He brought a background in electronics and telecommunication research, design and management, and had served as the biomedical engineering manager at Lenox Hill Hospital, where he provided support and development of clinical equipment.

Rather than having traditional clean and dirty rooms for equipment that is used by patients, and is then cleaned and made available again, the hospital already had its own operational management system. The Environmental Services team is notified when a patient is discharged, so that they can clean equipment directly in the patient room as part of the room-readiness checklist, and then place those cleaned items in an equipment-holding area on each floor, ready for reuse. Before the RFID pilot, the hospital's Nursing and Biomedical groups had established PAR levels for patient pods. Each pod consists of approximately 15 patient rooms and has a specific number of assets assigned to it, such as vital-sign monitors, EKG machines, infusion pumps, lifters and scanners.

NWH's David Stotland
The hospital, however, wanted a technological system that would provide automated data about the location of equipment, compliance with PAR levels, and analytics to observe trends. "It has been determined that we didn't need an active real-time locating system (RTLS) that would require maintenance itself," Stotland adds, "because we didn't need to control every square foot of the facility. But we did need to be better able to locate equipment when needed. Biomedical's idea has been to monitor pre-defined areas." Northern Westchester Hospital took advantage of its existing processes, used the existing pod-location system and created additional zones, such as the elevator areas, clean storage, the main depot, the biomedical area, and so forth, in order to gain visibility into where equipment is.

NWH investigated multiple passive RFID vendors, Stotland says, then selected Quake since it demonstrated an understanding of the hospital's existing processes and was willing to build a solution around them. "We were not interested in just seeing our equipment on the electronic map," Stotland explains. "We instead wanted to use equipment tracking data to optimize and develop related business processes, and asked Quake Global to configure a system for our needs and parameters."

Quake provides a variety of hardware and software products for asset monitoring, process optimization and automation, explains Chetan Karani, Quake Global's senior VP of solutions and sales engineering. "The customer can choose to use just a single product from Quake Global or a complete integrated solution. The products are configurable, creating cost-effective solutions specific to the needs of customers."

A fabric tag sewn to a wheelchair

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