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RFID Helps Understaffed Hospital Focus on Patients

At Pantai Hospital Ipoh, in Malaysia, RFID automates routine tasks, giving nurses time to provide quality patient care.
By John Edwards
Jun 28, 2010—Ipoh, one of Malaysia's main cities, is located approximately 125 miles north of the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur. At the city's main medical center, Pantai Hospital Ipoh, radio frequency identification is helping administrators provide better patient care despite a rapidly growing local population and a chronic skilled labor shortage.

Pantai's RIFD initiative is part of a larger effort to transform the hospital into a top-tier medical facility that meets the needs of both caregivers and patients while controlling costs. "What we've basically done over the last two years is to reexamine the whole business model, and then introduce change management into the hospital," says Dilshaad Abas Ali, M.D., the hospital's CEO. The Ipoh facility, a unit of Malaysia's Pantai Hospital Group, is a general acute-care private hospital that serves several regional communities.

At Malaysia's Pantai Hospital Ipoh, RFID is helping nurses provide better patient care.

Pantai, which opened its doors in April 1996 with 76 beds, has rapidly expanded to 180 beds and now has plans for future growth. And yet, for most of the past decade, the hospital's administrators have struggled with two fundamental challenges: a growing patient load and a chronic scarcity of skilled caregivers. "What's happening in Malaysia today is that we're having a shortage of nursing professionals," Dilshaad says. "There is an exodus of people running to the Middle East, the U.S. and the U.K., because of [their] more lucrative salaries and [employment] packages."

An understaffed nursing team threatens to diminish Pantai's ability to provide quality patient care. Seeking a cost-effective solution, hospital administrators have turned to RFID to automate the everyday administrative-oriented tasks that take nurses away from their patients. "We felt that technology could do the routine work just as well or even better," Dilshaad states, "while the nurses could focus on the tasks that required their skills."

After studying the situation in collaboration with Cadi Scientific, a Singapore firm specializing in hospital-based wireless technologies, the administrators decided that patient temperature monitoring and location tracking were two highly work-intensive tasks that could easily be turned over to RFID.
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