Some hospitals, such as St. Clair in Pittsburg, are using the systems to ensure that patients get the right medications. The nurses carry a smart tablet equipped with a reader / scanner to verify the patient’s identification and the doctor’s orders for medications before dispensing the drugs. Obviously, this helps to ensure that there are fewer errors. Ms. Suzanne Smiley at RFID Insider recently published an article which includes examples on tracking mundane items such as laundry, to patient care items like bandages, gloves and vials, to expensive equipment including beds and monitors. Read the full article here: “7 Things You Can Track in Hospitals Using RFID“.
Hospitals, clinics and companies providing medical equipment for home use can use RFID tagging to help prevent fraud. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced that they planned to implement unannounced site visits as a measure against fraudulent billing practices. Simple adhesive backed tags cost around $0.25 each, and this price drops to the pennies apiece when buying in bulk.
Some equipment providers have already started using radio frequency ID tags to ensure that they are prepared for these surprise visits. The advantages include being able to retrieve records, match equipment to patients and quickly supply the information necessary for an unannounced audit.
The tags can also be used to monitor the comings and goings of nurses and other personnel. The benefits may include increased efficiency and less theft. In general, hospital tracking software lowers costs and increases productivity.
Other benefits of RFID hospital tracking software has to do with improved patient care and safety. In addition to the bedside system mentioned above, the technology can also be used to track and monitor sponges, gauze and towels in the operating room.
One of the most common accidents during surgical procedures occurs when the wound is closed before all foreign objects are removed from the patient. Using high frequency tags and electronic readers, the objects are counted before the procedure and again when the surgeon is about to close. CBS News reported that in the 8 year period between 2005 and 2013, nearly 800 surgical tools were left in patients following hospital procedures.
As the items move into and out of the patient, the counts are automatically reconciled. So, there is no extra time involved. A handheld wand is used to locate items when the count is not correct.
Another benefit is in the area of identification or name tags. In areas where a “swipe” is necessary to gain entrance, the high frequency radio tags can be used instead. As an employee walks by, the tag is read. The lock is disengaged and the staff can enter without touching the reader or removing the tag from its location. This is an important benefit for sterile environments.
If you are about to install hospital tracking software, making use of RFID technology is a good idea. It is expected to take the place of bar codes and similar systems in the near future.
To learn more about RFID and its uses, we can recommend a few books available through Amazon:
RFID For Dummies
Getting Started with RFID: Identify Objects in the Physical World with Arduino
RFID in the Supply Chain
RFID: Applications, Security, and Privacy