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Hospital Tracks Equipment With RFID-Enabled Shelving

Tokyo's St. Luke's International Hospital has completed a pilot of RFID technology to track the movement of equipment. The facility found that the technology identified stock levels at each of its wards in real time, and reduced the number of staff visits to the central clinical engineering room by approximately 55 percent.

The technology, known as Recopick, is provided by Japanese carbon-fiber and plastics technology company Teijin Ltd.

St. Luke's serves approximately 2,550 outpatients daily and has 520 beds for patients staying at the facility. It includes 13 floors and a total of 60,000 square meters (646,000 square feet) of facility space in its main building The hospital is growing with the demands of its community; recently, it added an annex and birth clinic containing 19 beds.

Much of the hospital's equipment used to treat patients, such as infusion pumps, syringe pumps, low-pressure continuous suction devices and oxygen flow meters, was stored in centralized clinical engineering rooms when not in use. This meant that employees seeking equipment had to walk to and from these centralized rooms many times during each shift. To create a record of which personnel took which items, the hospital used a bar-code system so that workers in the engineering rooms could scan each asset as a nurse borrowed or returned it. Because this process was so time-consuming, nurses often kept medical devices in their own wards so that they could easily access them again. For the hospital, that meant the items appeared to be missing, and stocks were thus replenished unnecessarily.

St. Luke's began seeking a better, more automated solution in 2016 and deployed Recopick in the spring of that year. About 1,300 pumps and oxygen flow meters were tagged with passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags with a waterproof casing, so that they could sustain cleaning and sterilization processes.

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