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RFID Solutions For Healthcare Industry

Aug 17, 2007
Imagine the hospital of the future where unnecessary expenses will be cut and more patient lives will be saved. Say goodbye to the inefficiencies of the old hospital and welcome the new, highly cost-effective system of asset and personnel tracking, patient care, and billing, the keystone of which will be radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

GAO RFID envisions such a world, as we are a leading RFID solutions provider. The applications for the healthcare industry are several, asset tracking, patient tracking, staff location, baby monitoring, blood bank distribution, etc. Here we define two such applications:

Asset Tracking:
Healthcare facilities invest millions of dollars in upgrading and maintaining expensive equipment that aid the healthcare professional in the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of patients. It is incumbent on these professionals to maximize the use of such machines to maintain cost controls and yet meet the ever evolving and extremely dynamic needs of the patients. When the equipment needed is not readily available this leads to many undesirable outcomes:

(1) Staff are then sent scrambling through many corridors, sometimes over many floors to find the equipment they need,
(2) The Facility procures added machinery that taxes capital resources while existing assets remain under-utilized and
(3) The patients very well being could be at risk without the machine available at the time it is needed.

RFID technology solves all of the above by simply affixing an RFID tag to the equipment and strategically locating readers throughout the area of operations where the hardware is needed. In this way, as the device passes through a read point, it is registered in the applications software in real time to be in that area. In this way, staff will know what area of the facility each piece of equipment is located when they really need to have it. The results are less time wasted for healthcare professionals scrambling to find equipment, better utilization of existing assets that reduces capital expenditures and most importantly, a patient gets the best care available reducing the likelihood of liability because of poor health care services.

Patient Tracking Solutions:
Hospitals and Health Care facilities are more concerned these days about having the ability to accurately track their patients. Whether its dispensing medication or identifying the individual for procedures or pulling up a history of treatment on a patient; RFID technology is a way to manage the information much more efficiently.

An RFID system is used for accurately locating and tracking people, equipment and objects in a hospital. The system is designed to track hospital assets, curb excess expenditures, increase safety and ensure security and access control by placing small radio frequency identification devices, or RFID tags on people and objects.

Hospitals and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are facing daily challenges especially when responding to disasters, such as severe weather conditions, toxic chemical spills and terrorism. They need to manage a large quantity of patients from the disaster area to nearby hospitals effectively and efficiently.

The responsibility for the safety of patients, who may be missing from hospital beds or emergency wards rests with the healthcare worker. RFID makes tracking patients easier giving care takers the ability for fast, accurate identification and verification.

a) Encoded RFID Bracelet data can be read through bed linens, so patients don't have to be disturbed when sleeping. They can be used with fixed readers in doorways and corridors, to help staff keep track of ambulatory patients.

b) RFID Bracelet solutions can encode patient information in RFID tags to have better tracking performance especially when access to a remote database is not available.

c) RFID Bracelet solutions provide a convenient, one-step solution for patient IDs. Text or graphics are produced directly on the Bracelet. There is no need for handwritten or typed inserts, or stick-on labels, which saves time and eliminates a potential point of failure.

Newborn Baby Tracking Solutions:
For the most part, the Maternity Ward is thankfully a great source for joy and celebration as new family members are welcomed into the world. The ward staff shares some of this joy by playing their part throughout the labor and the post-partum care of mother and newborn child. However anxiety levels rise for the patients, families and staff when there are complications during the labor and/or when the newborn needs neonatal care. In many of these instances the baby and the mother need to be separated, a scenario that creates anxiety. Anxiety can easily turn to anger and a possible law suit when there is a mother-baby mix up; the wrong baby being sent to the wrong mother for the crucial early bonding period, breast-feeding etc.

RFID technology will help both these difficult and challenging situations. At the time of admittance the mother is provided with a patient's RFID tag that will start the process of tracking all procedures relevant to that labor. Once the child is born, an ankle tag is provided to the baby as well and immediately cross-referenced to the baby's mother and the mother's tag.

Family Access to Babies in Neonatal Care:
In the case of the newborn needing neonatal care, family members are almost as anxious as the new mother, to greet and bond with the new family member. When the newborn needs to be in an intensive care unit (ICU) this becomes very difficult due to the restricted access in the ICU. RFID solves this problem by making available to families the ability to view on a computer monitor outside of the ICU the key data about the baby, a photograph, the height, weight, skin color and temperature after keying in, for example, the mother's family name and first name.

Mother-Baby Mix-ups Eliminated:
Even when the mix up is uncovered moments after the mistake is made, this can cause heightened levels of anger and dissatisfaction with the services rendered. Any mother-baby mix up is a potential liability to the hospital. This scenario can be guaranteed not to happen when staff follows a procedure of reading the baby's tag and then reading the mother's tag and re-confirming the match that was initiated at the birth.

GAORFID Solution:
GAO RFID can bring a turnkey RFID solution to your asset tracking and patient tracking challenges for any medical facility including the hardware, software and systems integration services.
About the Author
GAORFID Technology Solutions Team
601 Milner Avenue, Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario
M1B 2K4
Tel: 416-292-0038
Fax: 416-292-2364
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