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  • Writer's pictureVickylynne

Supporting Hospitals to keep track of medical equipment

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Hospitals have a vast amount of essential medical equipment, infusion pumps, feeding pumps, wheelchairs, monitors, scanners the list is endless. Keeping track of this equipment and been able to easily locate it is a full-time job. The time taken by healthcare staff to track and locate all of this equipment and identifying which department last used a particular piece of kit, the hours add up to a momentous loss of productivity. To improve efficiencies in this area healthcare providers, rely on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging to quickly be able to find equipment and therefore streamline this currently rather cumbersome task. RFID utilizes radio waves to identify, authenticate, track and trace mobile medical devices. Some of the most commonly sought-after items are often wheelchairs, scanners, syringe drivers, feeding pumps, monitors and infusion pumps. RFID tagging enables staff to access the unique information programmed within a tag, to identify its location.

RFID technology has been around for some time but there has been a recent increase in the uptake and utilisation of this technology and the practice of asset tagging within hospitals. This is improving efficiencies and has clear benefits in saving time and consequently money. RFID tags can be read in less than 100 milliseconds and multiple tags can be scanned at one further saving time. Currently hospital equipment is managed by MEL (Medical Equipment Library) this enables hospitals to manage equipment from a central pool and regulate equipment out on loan to other departments and tracking of those assets. The use of this rapidly growing technology has many benefits such as cost reduction associated with the time usually taken to locate medical equipment, in being able to locate necessary equipment faster patient care has improved and productivity overall has improved.

RFID tagging has been rated the 10th most innovative technology in 25 years! Here are some examples of how this technology can better help healthcare: Asset Tracking and Management One of the most compelling cases for implementing RFID tagging is the improved productivity that can be gained. 85% of nurses will spend at least an hour of their shift searching for supplies and equipment, but with the help of asset tracking this time will be significantly reduced. In turn, the valuable time of hospital staff will be freed up to get on with their crucial tasks. Healthcare providers are also afforded the benefit of being able to analyse the results of an asset’s movement history, making operational improvements where necessary. Reduce the number of loaned equipment When it comes to asset tracking and management, healthcare staff are faced with so many challenges that they often pick up bad habits; finding equipment and supplies can be so difficult that many departments will create their own secret stash. Other departments may have to loan equipment from central reserves but there is often not enough supply to meet the demand.

On average, hospital departments will loan 1,200 pieces of medical equipment a month, but the availability of RFID tagging has seen the number of equipment available for loan reach 3,000. The use of RFID tagging, and MEL means that departments are now being re-educated as to how they should manage assets; as a result, more equipment is correctly returned, and more assets are available for other departments to loan. Reduce theft hospitals are full to the brim with expensive equipment and the healthcare industry makes losses of thousands of pounds annually due to theft. Luckily, RFID tagging can help to alleviate this threat as tracking the location of assets will enable hospital staff to keep a close eye on all of their pieces of equipment. Keeping Patients Safe Most importantly of all, RFID tagging can be adapted into wearable technology that can help keep patients safe. Large volumes of patients pass through hospitals each day and their safety and wellbeing is of paramount importance. RFID tags can be integrated into patients’ hospitals bands so their location can be tracked by hospital staff should anything go awry. This is particularly important when it comes to vulnerable adults and new-born. Hospitals are incredibly busy places, and it is often easy for items to be misplaced. The development of RFID tagging has considerably improved the productivity of staff in hospitals where this technology has been implemented and has even helped healthcare providers make significant operational improvements. For more information about RFID tagging and wireless technology within healthcare, get in touch with a member of the Athena team today.

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