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RFID in Health Care 2009—Boston Report

More than 100 health-care professionals gathered in Boston last month to attend RFID Journal's third RFID in Health Care conference. View the presentations from the event.
Oct 19, 2009—Radio frequency identification has a variety of uses in hospital settings, from asset tracking to patient monitoring. RFID in Health Care 2009—Boston, RFID Journal's third conference and exhibition for health-care professionals, was held on Sept. 17 at The Westin Waltham-Boston, in Waltham, Mass. More than 100 attendees gathered at the conference to learn how they can benefit from using the technology, and speaker presentations are now available (see the final page for downloading instructions).

This conference was designed to educate attendees regarding how hospitals across North America are achieving benefits from using RFID technologies to monitor patients and assets, as well as reduce medical errors and collect information automatically. Such benefits include increasing asset utilization with real-time tracking, reducing errors by tracking medical devices, improving patient monitoring and safety, enhancing supply chain efficiencies and boosting revenue with automated billing.

During this one-day event, health-care providers, hospitals and other end users revealed how they have employed RFID and Electronic Product Code (EPC) technologies to reduce costs, streamline operational efficiencies and improve patient care. What's more, industry leaders offered insights into how to move from one-off applications to an infrastructure approach to radio frequency identification.

Main Conference Sessions
Mark Roberti, RFID Journal's founder and editor, opened the conference with a presentation regarding the basics of RFID technology for health-care professionals. This session was designed to help attendees understand the various types of RFID technologies, as well as applications for each, and covered active, battery-assisted and passive technologies, both high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF). Roberti explained how each can be deployed to track various assets, and also offered a brief overview of EPCglobal's standards, including their relevance to the health-care industry.

Kim Carter, director of cardiovascular diagnostics and interventional services at the UMASS Memorial Medical Center—one of the largest acute-care hospitals in the northeastern United States—explained how the facility is employing RFID to control the costs of high-value implantable medical supplies, improve patient safety and adhere to regulatory compliance (see UMass Med Center Finds Big Savings Through Tagging and What You Don't Know Can Hurt You). UMass Memorial's Cardiac Cath Lab has an inventory valuation of more than $2 million to support the more than 7,000 procedures its doctors perform annually. Prior to the RFID deployment, it was a monumental task for the facility to control costs, ensure the proper products were available and manage expiration dates. Carter outlined how UMass has utilized RFID to reduce inventory costs by $300,000, manage bulk-buy opportunities, reduce expiring products and optimize product mix to support physician preferences and improve clinical staff workflow.

Ed Bortone, the Lahey Clinic Medical Center's director of materials services and security, told attendees how Lahey employs RFID in its ambulatory care center, which treats approximately 3,000 patients each day (see The Lahey Clinic's RFID Remedy). Hundreds more receive top-quality care in the hospital's 295-bed hospital, 24-hour emergency department and trauma center. The center, one of the top medical facilities in the Boston area, has more than 1,500 pieces of moveable medical equipment. In this session, Bortone discussed how Lahey pioneered the use of RFID for hospital asset tracking, and how it has since moved on to additional applications.
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