Using RFID Technology For Asset Tracking In Hospitals
In recent years, hospitals have started to invest in radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and real-time location systems (RTLS), to address concerns around medication administration, patient safety, inventory management, and the usage of fixed and mobile assets.
This blog will explore the main ways RFID technology is being used to track assets throughout hospitals, specifically identifying seven assets that more hospitals should consider tracking.
Asset Management In The Wake Of Scan4Safety
As a result of the Scan4Safety initiative, hospitals across the United Kingdom have utilised mobile devices and barcoding technology to partially automate workflows for inventory management, asset tracking, medication administration and more. This has freed up time for nurses to spend with patients, and helped simultaneously improve visibility and expenditure.
That being said, barcoding technology is just one step in the direction of automated workflows. While barcode systems deliver point-in-time information to clinicians, there are several use cases where you may want to schedule a free consultancy session with experts in asset tracking and management technologies, to help you evaluate your current data-capture systems, and improve your real-time visibility of assets. It's likely that RFID technology is the best next step for your hospital.
What are the benefits of adopting RFID technology?
With RFID technology, you can...
- Scan a tag or label without line-of-sight
- Enable workers to scan multiple items at once
- Benefit from real-time information about your assets, including where they are and how they are performing
Why & How Hospitals Are Using RFID Technology For Asset Tracking
Within hospitals, RFID technology means that hospital staff can conduct inventory counts by simply passing intelligently tagged assets through a system of fixed or mobile readers, capable of scanning multiple items at any one time.
It might take an individual minutes to manually scan tens of items within an inventory store, but with an RFID scanner, all items can be processed within seconds. This means that nurses can spend less time in storerooms, or running around a ward trying to find equipment, and more time caring for patients.
So, within hospitals, how is RFID technology being used?
Hospitals are using RFID technology to...
- Automate inventory logging
- Ensure medication and general asset lifecycles are automatically logged, alerting clinicians when shelf lives are nearing expiry
- Eliminate the need for assets to be manually scanned
- Deliver visibility of full asset journeys (from entry into hospitals, through storeroom movements, to point of care and beyond)
- Locate critical equipment in real-time (to their exact spot within a ward or store)
Seven Assets That Your Hospitals Should Consider Tracking
Now that we've explored the benefits of RFID technology, as well as how RFID technology is being used within hospitals, let's look at seven assets that MiTEQ can help your hospital track:
1. Medication & Pharmaceuticals
RFID labels on hospital medication and pharmaceuticals can be read and authenticated using mobile devices, to automatically update supply accounts and eliminate the presence of counterfeit medications.
2. Patient Records
RFID wristbands can be encrypted with patient data, ensuring medical history is easy to access and can be updated in real-time.
3. Medical Equipment Sterilisation
RFID labelled tools can be scanned after sterilisation to improve infection control, as well as the quality of patient care and the safety of hospital staff.
4. Inventory Items
RFID tagged goods can be automatically scanned, monitored, and purchased, based on thresholds set by management. This kind of automated inventory management is especially helpful for long term goods, but it is worth contacting an experienced asset management expert if you are interested in tracking disposable goods, like gauze and rubber gloves - these can be trickier.
5. Large Assets (e.g. stretchers)
RFID labels can be used to track and locate larger items, such as stretchers, wheelchairs, and crutches. These kinds of large mobile assets are regularly misplaced or lost, and the tracking of them can improve patient experiences, reduce expenditure, and save your clinicians valuable time.
6. Staff & Patients
RFID smartcards, lanyards, and wristbands can be used to manage the access of staff and patients around your healthcare facilities, to improve patient safety and site security, while preventing cases of staff malpractice. "Mother and baby" linked wristbands are a great example of how patient tracking solutions can be used to mutually benefit vulnerable patients and hospitals.
7. Theatre Kits
RFID labelled pre-packed theatre kit boxes can help hospitals ensure they have the right medical equipment for hospital procedures, while freeing up time previously spent counting items, and improving the overall "leanness" of operations.
MiTEQ: Delivering Asset Tracking Solutions To Healthcare Providers
The MiTEQ team have worked within and alongside NHS and Private Healthcare Trusts for a number of decades, helping the likes of IT, Operations, and Project Managers to invest in technology that will improve the tracking and management of their assets.
We can help you navigate new clinical systems, and adopt the right mobile technology to overcome challenges and elevate patient care.