03 Jul 2014

RFID is Changing Hospital Security and Operations

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With the growing use of technology in today’s security systems, many major professional fields are re-evaluating the systems that protect them. One major building type that is seeing a large push for security system updates in the last decade is hospitals. The need for tight security and controllable access can be very important for hospital buildings which often span several city blocks. One technology that is changing hospital security and operations is radio-frequency identification (RFID). Not only does RFID aid in better security for hospitals, they are quickly being integrated into the daily operations of hospitals while cutting cost and increases customer satisfaction.

When talking about the benefits of RFID in your hospital, let’s start with the main concern of administration…money. RFID systems pay for themselves very quickly and for several reasons. The first reason is tracking and managing equipment.  A wheelchair costs a hospital $150. In a single week, a hospital’s staff can spend $7,000 in clinical time searching for one! Lost or misplaced infusion pumps lead to overstocking IV’s which can cost a hospital up to $150,000 annually. One hospital in Texas saves $65,000 per month just in rental fees. This is due to all rental equipment being tagged. When a nurse rolls the equipment out of a patient’s room he or she presses a button that sends an alert to the rental company to pick up the item. In addition, thanks to a real-time location system, the driver from the rental company knows exactly where to find the equipment. This highly intelligent technology saves hospitals time, money, and increases the quality of patient care for years to come. Finally, hospitals can dramatically reduce dollars lost on misplaced or stolen equipment. Handheld RFID tracking allows users to quickly and accurately track inventory of IT equipment, consumables and medications, lab supplies, and more.

Another main reason for implementing RFID technology into your hospital is higher levels of patient care and patient tracking. Patient care is interrupted or delayed when staff searches for needed equipment. Also, equipment and bed turnover are essential to operational efficiency and are difficult to track. RFID readers installed at high traffic locations detect and time-stamp movement of tagged critical assets. Most hospitals don’t currently need a constant real-time update of equipment location, however placing readers in high traffic areas will allow providers to track movement of these items for quick access. This is extremely beneficial when it comes to life saving or critical care equipment. When it comes to patient tracking, misidentification of patients can lead to medical errors. Also, essential care can be delayed and clinical time wasted when a patient leaves a room or floor. RFID tagged wrist bands enable positive patient identification (PPID) for medication and treatment. These wrist bands can track patient movement as they pass RFID readers key portals throughout the facility. Temporary ID tags for visitors and relatives can also verify their status and access to certain areas of the hospital.

For more information on implementing RFID in your hospital, contact us at info@datalink.net.

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