How Is RFID Being Used With Electronic Medical Records?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsHow Is RFID Being Used With Electronic Medical Records?
RFID Journal Staff asked 10 years ago

Please provide some examples.

—Name withheld


Around the world, there is a push to convert the billions of pages of paper records associated with patients to electronic documents that can easily be searched electronically. Passive radio frequency identification technology is good option for tracking physical documents, so it could also be viable for tracking older records not worth converting to images. RFID is also being used to track boxes of paper records that have been scanned, in case the original is ever needed. TCG, a company in Brazil, has converted more than 10 million paper documents to searchable digital images, associating each document with a box that has an RFID tag on it. If the paper original is ever needed, it can easily be found.

RFID is also speeding up access to electronic medical records. Central Oregon Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), LLC, a clinic in Bend, Ore., has calculated that the process of accessing electronic records consumes many hours of time annually, as its team of six physicians and six nurses must input passwords before each task, wait for them to be accepted and then sign out again when finished. Central Oregon ENT resolved this problem by deploying an RFID solution provided by Proxense. With the company's product, ProxAccess, RFID tags in ID badges are verified upon entering a room and coming within range of a reader, thereby triggering a computer to permit employees access to EMR files, with the EMR software application or just the file shutting down again as they leave. Twice daily, a fingerprint scan is required as well, in order to confirm that the individual using the system is, indeed, the person identified on the badge. The benefits, according to Ryan Gallivan, an otolaryngologist at the clinic, are twofold: Employees save time otherwise spent logging in and out of PCs numerous times daily, and security is better ensured since the system automatically closes the EMR application when a user leaves the vicinity (see Oregon Clinic Improves Access to Electronic Medical Records).

Providence Centralia Hospital, a rural hospital servicing Lewis County and the surrounding areas in the state of Washington, is employing a Wi-Fi-based real-time location system (RTLS) to track the critical tablet PCs that its clinicians use to access patient data and associated applications from anywhere on the hospital grounds. The system leverages the facility's existing IT infrastructure and network investments, including its medical-grade wireless network, and also leverages the tablets' Wi-Fi capabilities. It uses AeroScout's RTLS engine to determine the device's location at any given time, enabling doctors to find the tablets and access electronic medical records as needed (see Providence Centralia Uses RTLS to Track Electronic Charts).

The Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain (BMJ) Heart Center, in Bangalore, India, is using passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags to help maintain patient records, monitor patient flow and care, and track assets throughout the hospital's outpatient department. Since the fall of 2006, the cardiac hospital—part of the Vivus Group—has employed the Clinical Information Processing Platform (CLIP), from Aventyn, a wireless technology company based in San Diego, Calif. The facility now monitors an average of 100 new patients daily, as well as returning patients, as they check into its outpatient department. Patients checking into BMJ's outpatient department receive RFID-tagged patient cards. The unique ID number on each tag is associated with that individual's electronic record in the CLIP Personal Health Manager. The goal was to issue patient health cards at the outpatient department's registration front desk, and to then track the patients as they proceeded through cardiologist consultation and diagnosis, so that their electronic health records would be received automatically based on patient identification. This eliminated the tedious manual effort of paper registration, as well as the use of paper forms for clinical records.

These are just some of the many ways in which RFID is helping to provide secure access to electronic medical records.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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