RFID Poised to Transform Hospital Care

With real-time RFID data, hospitals can save time, labor, money and improve patient outcomes through better use of asset information. RFID technology used in hospital emergency departments not only helps track vital equipment and assets, but the collected data allows emergency department personnel to better understand how care was delivered. 

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With this insight, they can identify operational barriers or bottlenecks and address those workflow issues. That’s why leading hospitals like the Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys Hospital in Minnesota have deployed RFID to track
equipment, surgical instruments, and staff members.

RFID enables passive and fully automated data collection that can eventually reduce the amount of time and labor wasted in searching for assets or gathering data – and that labor can then be redirected into patient care. This is ultimately how RFID will revolutionize healthcare:  not by making it faster or less expensive, but by giving providers the time and information they need to deliver better care.

According to the Harvard Business Review, analyzing the data that RFID and other hospital systems generate will be the next phase of IT innovation in hospitals. So far it isn’t happening at a scale that can significantly impact patient outcomes – at least not yet.

Xerafy’s surgical instrument tracking for the Operating Room (OR) and the central sterile services department (CSSD) eliminates manual instrument counts or paper-based sterilization tracking processes. Staff can then spend more of their time on activities that improve care and boost patient safety. Our customers also use the information gleaned from their asset tracking activities to improve hospital operations.

The HBR article linked above name checks both the Mayo RFID system as well as one in place at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago that has improved everything from asset utilization to room cleaning procedures. The lack of this real-time insight can lead to disaster in a healthcare setting – as was demonstrated by the high rates of infection related to poor sterilization practices at the Detroit Medical Center.

Slapping RFID tags on the asset fleet won’t solve these problems. The hospitals that see early success with RFID tracking have created an environment that nurtures collaboration across disciplines, encourages ongoing engagement, and emphasizes continuous education. The RFID tag will tell you whether or not your staff is following best practices when it comes to sterilization, but it is the culture of the hospital and management’s choices around showing employees why this is important that will ultimately result in improvements.

Join the conversation: What other hospital operations could be improved using RFID? Are there other ways such technology can improve patient care?

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