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Alf, Huw, John Sandham
Total Likes: 12
Original Post (Thread Starter)
by lbowie
Systems typically RFID that track assets throughout the hospital. Something I am coming across more of these days especially with potential efficiency benefits.

Worth it?
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by Adrian Jones
Adrian Jones
We have had a tracking system in place for a number of years now and it continues to grow.

It is the Harland & Simon RF system now Bemrose Booth Paragon ID and we started with active tags. These were used across three of our sites initially to track infusion pumps from the equipment library. Scanning was done with a PDA when the library technician did their rounds or we were carrying out PM in a department. This would give us an idea of any devices on the ward that we had missed in the library. The tags are also used to book in and out loan equipment from the library in the Equipment Library module of e-Quip.

Over the years we have expanded the system and on two of the sites we have full coverage. We continue tagging more equipment which has proved invaluable not just for ourselves but other departments who have lent equipment out and it has not been returned - bladder scanners etc. We have nearly completed changing our asset numbers over to GS1 which are passive labels. Scanning of the passive labels is currently done with a PDA scanners but we do have higher powered trolleys waiting to be commissioned. Passive labelling does have its problems with medical kit and you will not always get the labels to work unless you have the label on a plastic tag attached to the device, some kit you have to rely on the active tag.

Estates also came on board with the project and this helps greatly with funding. They use the system to track beds, hoists and wheelchairs.

The CR2032 in the tags lasts for years should it not get changed on a PM, they are set to ping every 20s, we look for six consecutive pings before updating the database. When the database is updated this is then pushed across to eQuip and PlantFM and the relative equipment record updated.
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by Dustcap
I agree with John, very use ful for tracking but also for audit purpose and help towards building business plans for product replacement or expanding fleets of devices.
You should first speak with your IT department and discuss heat maps and wifi coverage, if you dont have the infrastructure to track then there's no point. Also worth speaking to them for future visions including any updates or upgrades to IT systems-combined projects. Some very good companies out there now providing suitable hospital RFID systems. Research the difference between passive and active RFID as this will show you more into the solutions you can apply.
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by Geoff Hannis
Geoff Hannis
Is it worth it? Do you already have a decent PM programme in place and operating well? Are your "customers" happy with the tech support you currently provide? If not, I would suggest that any money that comes your way might be better spent in those "more traditional" areas before splashing out on RFID.

Regarding RFID; the whole thing is not as easy (or as simple) as some of the companies would like you to believe. In short, it needs proper planning if you are to have any hope of real and lasting success.

I would recommend that RFID implementation should be regarded from the onset (and extending probably for a couple of years) as a Project ... with a Project Manager (not just dumping it on the Biomed Chief), plus a (small) project team. In a large hospital, it may even be worth retaining the team after initial implementation in order to provide on-going support (as well as development, system expansion, upgrades, maintenance etc.).

There is a need to have clear aims and targets (all written down, and sanctioned by "senior management") - otherwise the whole thing can degenerate into (yet another) fiasco (white elephant, blame game, exercise in wishing thinking, or shall we say - waste of money).

Needless to say such a Project needs to be properly funded (where is the budget going to come from?). Otherwise, well ... just look at John's example about tags laying about in the office. Let's be charitable and hope they were part of an initial trial (feasibility test, "proof of concept", or what-have-you).

I have found this site to be very informative.
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by John Sandham
John Sandham
I think all assets should be tracked. It makes everything more efficient. The issue firstly getting the funds approved to pay for the RFID system, and then getting the staff to implement and manage the tracking system. It need both the funds and the staffing. I recently visited an EBME Dept that had RFID tags sitting in the Managers office, that had been there for over 18 months. Why purchase them in the first place if you don't have the people to fit them and operate the system?
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by John Sandham
John Sandham
Hi Alf, your comment "I find these things best driven by a EBME Chief who is like a dog with a bone" is very true. If the right person is leading the project, it can be very successful. As Geoff said, it should be regarded as a project, and resourced properly, with clear aims and targets.

I have seen successful RFID implementations, and when everything is in place, IT (Good wifi), EBME, the supplier, etc, it makes the whole hospital more efficient, if it is well implemented and managed.
With regard to Dustcaps comment - "keeping up with replacing the batteries" issue, I think the suppliers should build in RFID wifi tracking using the internal power supply/battery. A good USP for them! (Permanent tracking capability, as have with mobile phones now)

RFID Passive tags can also be very useful, no battery to change. I have seen them used for bed location management. (readers at ward/dept entry points).
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by Dustcap
Some excellent points Alf, experience of RFID project?
I forgot to mention that there are active RFID systems that do not require you to put in "choke points, antennas readers etc" but simply use network points and triangulate the signal sent from the tag. I came from a hospital that utilized this system and it was fantastic when it worked. The down side is keeping up with replacing the batteries before they died, otherwise they were lost until the PPM came around. We worked out that incorporating a Tag battery check into the PPM worked really well. It comes down to money really but i would go for the active triangulation system over bespoke systems that rely on setting up yet another network that no one else can utilize. RFID can also go towards any GS1 projects that maybe happening inside your trust. Thats if GS1 is still in fashion as have not heard it mentioned for some time now.
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by Adrian Jones
Adrian Jones
Hi Geoff,

A piece of fixed equipment does not have an active tag but will have the new passive asset label. If for any reason this is relocated by someone other than ourselves it would then be picked up on an audit, our library technician walks the site each morning and will take the scanner with him.

Where necessary with portable equipment that is small or has a metal case we will try and attach the passive to a plastic tag so that it is detected. If something that is high risk or value we try and get an active tag on it. We have three different size of passive, the larger the better. The active tags are 42 x 32 x 5 mm and are attached with a keyring, cable tie or hi-bond double sided tape.
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by Alf
I agree with John also, tracking of equipment can bring many benefits. We are upgrading our system with "Smartfind" functionality presently. It has to be said though, it has not all plain sailing, as John alluded to, EBME department engagement is crucial and enables the system to be the very best it can be.

With respect to RF systems, It can be hard work coordinating Estates and IT input during installation (readers, antenna etc), one sometimes encounters a reluctance in acceptance of ownership when responsibilities lie in other disciplines - I find these things best driven by a EBME Chief who is like a dog with a bone.

It would be interesting to understand if any of you have encountered the latest generation of asset/patient location systems. These systems incorporate a software solution which utilises the Hospital existing WiFi.

A more future proof and cost effective system compared to RF systems (which require networked readers to be installed throughout the Hospital). The software tracks, locates and runs analysis on the movements of assets and/or patients and could be installed with a week given some mapping preparation beforehand,

The software Im told is more sophisticated than in RF tracking applications, possessing a degree of AI, in learning trends it possesses the ability to generate enlightening reports which could be used to improve efficiencies further.

looking forward to any feedback
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