Boston hospital uses RFID to track patient care devices

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Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston has invested in radio-frequency identification (RFID) from Radianse.

BWH is now able to track thousands of expensive patient care devices, most to room level precision, across the 17 floors of the inpatient tower, according to the Andover, Mass.-based Radianse. A delay or inability to find the devices could have compromised care delivery or quality of work life for the caregiver, according to the hospital.

BWH piloted the active-RFID-enabled technology in 2004/2005 based on a formula developed by L. Michael Fraai, director of biomedical engineering. Covering multiple units, operating rooms, common areas and departmental portals, the BWH pilot was as large as many other hospitals' full implementation of real-time asset tracking.  "We were able to show a 50 percent reduction in lost equipment, which led to a 15-month ROI," said Fraai.  He said the results cause the hospital to make the hospital-wide investment.

Radianse said its Reveal Asset Tracking is now used in the emergency department, med-surg units, and common areas and where it was originally implemented -- cardiac care and perioperative units. In the spring of 2008, when the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center opens, it too will feature the Radianse real-time location platform, the company said.
"There are opportunities for leveraging RFID beyond equipment tracking, particularly in support of some of our key process improvement initiatives," said Sue Schade, BWH CIO. "A logical next step, for example, would be to capture data on how long patients are in different areas and use what we learn to further identify new ways to improve the patient experience."