RFID and the Digital Transformation of Healthcare


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 Comp_3049381247transforming 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.

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