How do you turn a necessity into opportunities? Item-level tracking has become a necessity for healthcare providers. Here, Becky Ashin, VP Advanced Orthopedic Center and University Bariatric Center at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, TN, presents a number of examples of item-level RFID tracking implementations for OR, expired supplies, preference cards… The presentation took place in July at the RAIN RFID Alliance Meeting in Seattle.
As more healthcare providers undergo digital transformation initiatives, RFID technology can help meet the need for greater visibility into instrument tracking and sterilization
Hospitals are increasingly transforming into “smart” healthcare facilities with digital management processes, and RFID can play a large role in these efforts.
According to an IDC report in Healthcare IT News, this digital transformation is expected to expand rapidly in 2017. Over the next year, the percentage of providers actively executing digital transformation initiatives will jump from 10% to 42%.
Increased availability and analysis of patient data and other information is at the heart of this movement. This overview of Boston-based Partners Healthcare’s $1.2 billion electronic health record implementation will give you a glimpse of the complexity. The hospital system has hired hundreds of IT staff to manage the transition, which will take place over several years.
Automated tracking of medical devices and surgical instruments is part of this shift. Driving the need for better tracking and visibility is an increased focus on accuracy in the central sterile/ sterile processing department (CS/SPD). Xerafy has been a leading proponent of using technology (specifically RFID) to improve CS/SPD operations. (You can learn more about our healthcare solutions and customers here.)
According to Steven Adams, IAHCSMM president, sterilization departments are being pressed to complete cleaning/sterilization more quickly and provide greater documentation. Without the right resources, though, “[current] expectations perpetuate inaccurate set assembly, inefficient cleaning practices, and redundancy in reprocessing to redo sets due to errors, and increases frustration of the OR teams when they consistently receive incorrect trays.”
CS/SPD staff are tasked with cleaning an increasingly complex array of equipment. Updated standards have been developed for quality management and sterilization, but manual documentation can still bog down this process and lead to errors.
That’s where RFID comes in. Harvard Business Review published an informative overview of the Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys Hospital, detailing how the facility used RFID to improve asset and inventory management. The article also offers a list of valuable tips for ensuring a successful RFID deployment in a healthcare setting.
What challenges does your healthcare organization face that can be addressed through improved visibility and greater access to data? How can RFID play a role? Continue the conversation in our comments section below.
Aviation MRO has been an early adopter for RFID tool tracking solutions, setting the standard for how other industries can address their own tracking, safety and productivity challenges.
Managing tools and equipment is critical in aviation. Recently when a Chinese MRO technician left his headset after performing some routine work on a landing gear, there were luckily no operational consequences; the plane landed safely at its destination and the headset was recovered.
The consequences could have been worse. At $13 billion annually, the estimated annual cost of FODs (Foreign Object Damage) in the aviation industry is receiving increased attention. In an industry where margins have been historically thin and where safety is of paramount importance, the pressure is building to find operational solutions. It comes as no surprise then that the aviation industry includes a number of early adopters of tool tracking and management solutions aimed at preventing material and human accidents, production incidents, late deliveries, and more.
With ATA’s Spec 2000 update encompassing RFID technology, the aviation industry paved the way for effective technology solutions by creating a framework for its supply chain, standardizing information between manufacturers, airlines, maintenance companies and other parts suppliers. Other industries have been watching closely and are now looking for solutions to their own safety and productivity challenges, with strong interest observed in MRO for railways, power generation, as well as oil and gas.
The challenges they meet will sound very familiar to MRO and aviation veterans:
● High labor costs
● High risk of FODs
● Cost of replacing missing or stolen tools
● Loss of usage and maintenance data
● Absence of real-time management
Implementing and managing a tool tracking solution comes with its own challenges, and return on experience in the aviation industry helps identify some low-hanging fruit that can result in fast improvements:
● Manual record-keeping and paperwork
● Human errors and lost records
● Lack of real-time visibility
● Low-efficiency single item scanning
● Barcode labels that are easily damaged or rendered unreadable