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Airedale NHS Trust begin RFID tracking project for IV pumps

Siemens Healthcare UK : 21 May, 2008  (Company News)
Airedale NHS Trust in West Yorkshire and Siemens are rolling out a pioneering Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) pilot project that will streamline workflow and improve availability of Intravenous (IV) Pumps within the hospital environment.
The 30 day study will track about 100 IV pumps across various buildings on the hospital site via the hospital’s wireless network and the ID tag attached to each pump. IV pumps are used frequently in a clinical environment to deliver fluids and medications directly into patients’ veins. At present the process for stock control, cleansing after use and distribution to departments when required is handled manually by the Medical Engineering Department.

The RFID pilot study will look to optimise the utilisation of medical devices within the hospital and identify future applications for tracking and tracing technology. At any given moment the IV pumps can be tracked to within approximately three metres, which will save Trust resources in manually looking for the devices. It will also streamline stock control, ensure that pump availability is optimised, and ultimately minimise the time taken to allocate a pump to a patient.

Siemens is leading the project which includes the provision of workflow consultancy working in partnership with the Trust’s IT Department and Lean Teams. The technology evaluation also involves the collaboration of Qolcom, calibrating the wireless network for use with the RFID tags and readers, and application specialist Ekahau, supplying the WiFi tag tracking and query software.

“Airedale NHS Trust is intending to leverage the wireless network and prove both the concept and benefits of location services. This will provide an insight into how RFID technology could enable the more efficient use of medical equipment and thus support our application of the Lean methodology,” said Rebecca Malin, IT project manager at Airedale NHS Trust.

Dorothy Michel, head of strategic development for healthcare with Siemens stated, “RFID is an exciting technology which can be used in many ways to help the NHS deliver rapid and high standard care to patients. Redesigning workflow will also help shape the entire healthcare organisation into leaner process management. By working in partnership with the Trust’s IT team we can not only evaluate the need for detailed tracking of IV pumps but also look at the wider opportunities for other RFID use within the hospital environment.”

Barry Read, business development manager at Ekahau added, “Being able to track highly portable items such as IV pumps in a hospital environment will greatly assist with improving workflow and productivity. Our Wi-Fi tags enable accurate, real-time tracking, while our software enables users to query the current and historic locations of assets throughout the facility.”

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