Almost one-third of hospitals and health systems have implemented radiofrequency identification (RFID) technology, according to Supply Chain Academy data. Briefly explained, RFID allows organizations to track the movement of equipment throughout their facilities; a system of RFID tags and sensors transmit location data to a centralized “map.” Initially, the technology enabled equipment managers to react to device needs at the unit level by quickly finding where other models of the needed piece were located. Staff could efficiently retrieve the equipment and deliver it to the unit in need.
Now, with these processes fully ironed out at some organizations, like Michigan Medicine, patient equipment managers are looking to use RFID proactively, such as optimizing par levels and streamlining equipment cleaning turnaround. Doing so allows them to keep needed equipment at the unit at all times, heading off long equipment searches.
Michigan Medicine’s RFID software allows the patient equipment team to set rules-based alerts, which notifies staff when equipment moves toward an undesired location. For example, prior to the program, the organization suspected some equipment was leaving the hospital by being mixed in with trash or laundry. Now, the system alarms anytime a tagged piece of equipment is taken down to the docks.
“We put in an audible alarm and strobe so anything that ends up in the trash or laundry, it will alarm as it passes through the hallway before it goes out,” says Amy Campbell, a senior project manager at Michigan Medicine. “Before, we didn’t know if it was a problem, really, because we thought things were leaving, but we weren’t really sure.”
The system has also been able to gain visibility into equipment sitting in clean and soiled utility rooms. Retrieving equipment from soiled rooms in a timely manner is essential for operations, as that piece of equipment needs to be properly cleaned before it can reenter the supply chain and be used for another patient. Any time equipment in a soiled room reaches a level of five pieces, a patient equipment staff member receives a page alerting them to collect the items. After equipment is cleaned, the RFID technology helps locate any low par areas that need replenishment of that item.
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