Why RFID is well suited for use in hospitals?


Today, most healthcare organizations track the bulk of these assets manually using spreadsheets or by sticking notes to equipment. Some of the more valuable assets may be tracked using battery-powered tracking tags but the cost and maintenance of these types of tags limit their use. This means that healthcare organizations are only able to automate tracking for a very small portion of their total assets.

As healthcare organizations seek solutions that support their initiatives to deliver exceptional patient care cost effectively, RFID technology is emerging as a low-cost and high-benefit technology solution to automate tracking of all kinds of assets. Healthcare organizations find they can reduce the overall costs of asset management by streamlining preventive maintenance management, minimizing asset loss, and reducing labor costs related to searching for assets. In addition, these improvements contribute to a better overall experience for patients and staff.

This blog explains how healthcare organizations are using RFID technology for asset management to drive improvements in hospital operations and patient care.

Challenges for healthcare providers in managing medical equipment

Most healthcare organizations face one or more of the following problems regarding asset management:

Asset loss

Healthcare organizations are constantly challenged with the accidental or deliberate removal of valuable medical equipment from their facilities. In some instances, smaller mobile medical equipment like telemetry packs may be easily concealed and removed from high-traffic areas of the healthcare facility, such as emergency departments. Smaller pieces of equipment can be inadvertently wrapped in hospital linens when a patient's room is cleaned and sent down a laundry chute.

Equipment may be loaned to another facility or from one floor or wing of a hospital to another because of an urgent need and then not returned.

Because of the difficulty of manually keeping track of assets, once an item is out of sight it is often lost for good.

High cost of purchasing and renting equipment

When hospitals don’t have a good understanding of the locations, utilization patterns, or maintenance and cleaning status of their mobile medical equipment, they often purchase excess equipment to prevent shortfalls that could disrupt patient care. Or, they may supplement their owned equipment with rental items to make up for shortfalls.

Time wasted by clinical staff searching for assets

Clinical staff, especially nurses, are a scarce and highly valuable resource. Studies show that nurses spend an average of 21 minutes per shift searching for lost equipment ("Out of Control: How Clinical Asset Proliferation and Lowe Utilization are Draining Healthcare Budgets" by GE Healthcare article).

As a consequence, clinical staff may place assets in unauthorized locations around the hospital so they’ll have these assets available for their patients when they need them.

This removes assets from the shared pool of equipment and results in shortages as well as surplus purchase or rental costs.

Inefficient biomed team workflows

Biomedical and clinical engineering teams are responsible for ensuring equipment is properly cleaned, maintained, and available where needed. In addition, Biomed teams are also responsible for ensuring compliance with relevant regulations from organizations like The Joint Commission on Accreditation and Certification. This often means extensive manual inspection of equipment rooms to confirm proper stock levels and manual procedures to monitor preventive maintenance schedules — both of which are time-consuming and labor-intensive.

Manual processes are also more prone to errors, which can result in equipment shortages at critical times.

Save Lives with Medical Asset Tracking

Routine hospital operations present many challenges for hospital management. The best possible patient care constantly competes with optimal and cost-efficient staff and resources. SmartX HUB’s Medical Asset Tracking or RTLS will play a crucial role in improving operational processes in healthcare facilities and assisting your organization in providing the best possible care:

  • - Faster response times
  • - The immediate location of required medical equipment
  • - Monitoring of patient and staff movements
  • - Enforcement of hygiene protocols
  • - Digitized workflows
  • - Emergency call systems for patients and staff

The primary goal of healthcare is to support and preserve people’s health. But it’s not just doctors and nurses who can save patients’ lives with life-saving procedures; RTLS can save lives, too. In medical emergencies, rapid location of medical equipment and appropriate staff response is critical. Hospitals are usually complex buildings with many medical devices spread across different floors.

Medical Asset Tracking from SmartX HUB helps employees locate devices as quickly as possible using a mobile app. This saves valuable time, which can be spent on treating patients.

Why RFID is well suited for use in hospitals ?

Healthcare organizations are undergoing a significant transformation as they increase their focus on reducing costs and improving patient care. Several factors are contributing to this transformation. These include

• Regulatory reforms such as the Affordable Care Act in the United States.

• Changes in healthcare insurance reimbursement models that increasingly reimburse based on health outcomes rather than volumes, putting pressure on healthcare organizations to focus on delivering quality outcomes efficiently.

The rapid rise of consumerism in healthcare where consumers are increasingly responsible for managing their own health, making choices about providers, an shopping around for healthcare services. This drives competition among healthcare providers to offer the best care at the most competitive rates. While healthcare providers are tackling these changes in a variety of ways, a focus on reducing costs and increasing efficiency in delivering care is key.

RFID technology is well suited to help hospitals looking for digital transformation technologies that can automate processes, increase accuracy and lower costs.

Low-cost, battery-free RFID tags allow for more items to be tagged

RFID tags are much less expensive than other types of tags. Because these tags need no batteries, there’s no need to consider additional expenses and maintenance to supply and replace batteries.

This allows healthcare organizations to tag many items and extend asset tracking to assets that were previously too expensive to track.

Small and slim size, and a variety of form factors allow for flexible application

RFID tags can be thin — about as thin as a business card. Small tags are less than an inch square. Others range from 2-4 inches long. The small size of RFID tags means that hospitals can track a range of items — from small items such as medical supplies and sample vials to oversized items such as infusion pumps or wheelchairs. These types of tags can withstand hospital cleaning processes, and in the unlikely event of loss or damage, they are easy to replace and update in the field.


The following video illustrates this shared increase in accuracy and efficiency of the RTLS in the Healthcare process.

Asset tracking: now with Cloud Benefits

Thanks to automatic software updates, a reduced server footprint, and enterprise-level scalability, asset tracking has never been easier or more powerful.

Monitor clean, soiled, and maintained equipment rooms - When it comes to managing the flow of biomedical equipment through a hospital, knowing the status of equipment is essential for efficient use. Is the equipment clean and ready for use? Or is it being maintained by the biomedical engineering department and unavailable?  RFID gateways installed in discrete locations such as clean equipment rooms, soiled equipment rooms, and maintenance rooms can be very effective in providing real-time intelligence to staff about the availability and status of equipment. SmartX HUB RFID solutions proactively generate alerts when equipment levels are below a certain threshold (PAR level) in a clean room or equipment is above a certain threshold in soiled rooms to alert service staff. This model requires the deployment of fixed gateway readers in discrete areas and the tagging of assets with RFID tags and can be a great way to begin an RFID asset management project relatively quickly.

Monitor entrances and exits to prevent unauthorized removal of assets from designated areas - Another model for asset management can be the monitoring of entrances and exits of hospital departments to prevent deliberate or accidental removal of assets. This could include assets that belong to one department being taken for use in another department. It could also include preventing theft of assets from more public areas of a hospital, such as the emergency department. Hospitals may also monitor unusual entrance/exit points such as laundry or garbage chutes where equipment might be accidentally disposed of.

Integration into existing enterprise hospital systems for intelligent operations - When data from the SmartX HUB platform is integrated into enterprise hospital systems, data about assets becomes accurate and current. This ensures that systems that manage assets, billing and other central functions have correct and current data. Data about an item, including the item identity, location, and authenticity, and the history and behavior of that item becomes visible. With this accurate and current information, organizations can make decisions about equipment purchases, rentals, and workflow optimization based on facts, not guesswork. 

Building a business case for asset management with RFID

With any business case, the two parts of the equation are the total cost of ownership of a given solution and the benefits that accrue to the organization after the deployment of such a solution. Implementing an RFID asset tracking solution is no different. SmartX HUB RFID solution provider can assist you with determining the costs of implementation and the benefits you might see.

• The existing cost of asset loss and the expected reduction to asset loss.

• Time staff searches for equipment and the expected reduction of that time.

• Other higher, value activities staff can now perform and the impact on the organization.

• Expected increase in the utilization rate of medical equipment.

• Existing cost of the rental equipment and the reduction of those costs.

• Improvements in cost-driven quality metrics such as those from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and insurance reimbursements requirements.

• Increase in the capacity of the Biomed department to manage the equipment fleet due to the elimination of manual tasks. • Impact of increased staff satisfaction on overall employee productivity and retention.

• Impact of increased patient satisfaction, such as improvements on Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores.

Shaping the future of healthcare together

The SmartX HUB RFID is a cloud-based RTLS solution that provides healthcare providers robust asset tracking and management. It helps you better manage your facility and equipment, and you can easily control your operational tasks and ensure that the equipment operates reliably and efficiently enough to guarantee patient care and patient satisfaction.

SmartX HUB's medical tracking is part of SmartX's Solution for Track & Trace and leverages IoT-RFID and Cloud platforms for data capture. Smartx hub's Solution for Track & Trace advances its past success in traceability technology by enabling multiple business use cases through applications and business intelligence.

Following the implementation of the RFID solution, the hospital sees more accurate inventory record-keeping. Without the risk of manual errors, hospital staff can be assured that inventory will be maintained at sufficient levels to provide high-quality healthcare to its patients.

SmartX HUB's global presence, coupled with its deep industry and business transformation expertise, has proven that the methodologies and experience gained from thousands of worldwide engagements help hospitals achieve accurate business results and innovation quickly and cost-effectively.

To get more information on how we can help you overcome the challenges to your healthcare business or check out a free demo, contact us.


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