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RFID Solution Cuts Scrubs Costs for Virginia Hospital

LewisGale Medical Center has saved approximately $40,000 in scrub inventory expenses by managing the use of the medical-procedure uniforms with Autovalet Systems' CabiNet RFID Scrub Dispensers and DressCode software.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 24, 2017

LewisGale Medical Center, located in Salem, Va., has reduced the cost of scrub replacement purchases with an RFID-based system that manages the use of the medical procedure garments by personnel and vendors. The solution, from Autovalet Systems, was provided by the hospital's laundry service vendor, Handcraft Services, located in Richmond Va., and consists of a pair of cabinets that detect the movements of scrubs as they are accessed and later returned by staff members. Autovalet manufactures the cabinets and provides technical support.

Autovalet's solution, known as the CabiNet RFID Scrub Dispenser, has reduced the hospital's expenses by $40,000 since it was installed in early 2016. The hospital, owned and operated by Hospital Corp. of America (HCA), now intends to purchase a second cabinet for the same purpose. HCA, one of the largest health-care providers in the United States, operates approximately 150 hospitals.

LewisGale Medical Center
Health-care providers at LewisGale and other hospitals wear scrubs consisting of a top and bottom in their size. When finished with a health-care procedure, such workers are expected to return the dirty scrubs before checking out another pair. At most facilities, the management of the garments is at least partially manual, and is based on trust.

Staff members access the scrubs they need, then return them once they are finished using them. However, if there is a concern that scrubs may not be available at a later date, or if employees simply do not take the time to pick up and return their scrubs regularly, the items begin to disappear. Staff members might take more than they need, and might not return them in a timely manner, meaning the garments then need to be replaced in order to ensure that inventory levels do not become too low.

The problem at most health-care facilities, says John Varley, Autovalet's director, is that some workers treat scrubs like disposable items. Many facilities use locked cabinets that require an ID badge to access the scrubs, but tracking how many items are removed can pose a challenge. Camera systems provide some information, but few companies have the time or resources to view the collected video footage.

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