The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has chosen the RFID Discovery system from Harland Simon to track the location of their mobile medical devices across their two 400-bed hospitals, the Royal Shrewsbury and the Princess Royal.
RFID Discovery provides hospitals with the ability to locate assets using RFID technology. Each device is fitted with an active RFID tag which broadcasts its unique ID at regular intervals. Signals are picked up by fixed readers or mobile handheld devices used by clinical technicians to audit the wards. Information is then sent back to a central database which shows the location where each asset was last ‘seen’ by the system.
Nigel Watkinson, Medical Engineering Manager for the Trust, is responsible for the management of 12,000 mobile medical devices at the two hospitals plus a further 17,000 in the community. To date, Nigel and his team have already tagged 861 devices including 500 beds and captured details on a central location database. The initial plan is to track 1,000 mobile medical devices, (500 at each site) and scale the system up by adding tags and fixed readers when required.
Michael Woffindale, Bed Technologist and RFID Specialist has been tasked with expanding the use of the RFID Discovery system within the Trust. He comments:
“The biggest driver for us to install this system is the time wasted trying to locate devices for maintenance. Our technicians often spend hours and walk miles tracking down equipment. Using RFID technology will allow us to locate mobile devices quickly and free up time to focus on our core tasks of servicing and repair.”
But not only technicians will be saving time by using the location information provided by RFID Discovery. Clinical staff will benefit, too, and this means more time is available to deliver patient care. Being able to locate mobile devices quickly also helps improve utilisation levels and re-establish the trust of clinical staff that equipment is available when needed. This often puts a stop to staff storing away devices for their department’s use which can exacerbate the issues surrounding device availability.
Michael enthuses: “My favourite feature is seeing location data being updated so effortlessly by using the handheld readers. No checking serial numbers or looking in cupboards to find specific pieces of equipment. Of course, it’s early days yet but we have certainly seen a benefit from improved location data and our engineers use the handheld readers every day as they go out through the hospital.”
Whilst the process of tagging devices continues, Nigel Watkinson is already looking to the future:
“We are planning to integrate RFID Discovery with our asset management database, so information between the two can be exchanged easily. This means we will be able to see alerts on the handheld reader of equipment that is due for servicing.”
Future plans also include installing further fixed readers as well as increasing the number of tagged medical devices.