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Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas Uses Wireless System to Track Location of Supplies, Equipment
06/28/2011

DALLAS — Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has begun tracking thousands of pieces of hospital equipment using a radio frequency identification system that instantly identifies where tagged objects are.

Clint Abernathy, performance and productivity director at Texas Health Dallas
Clint Abernathy, performance and productivity director at Texas Health Dallas, with some of the hospital's stored equipment.
Click photo to download hi-res image

More than 7,000 items throughout the hospital have been tagged — everything from IV poles to wheelchairs to beds. The wireless system allows nurses, doctors, patient care technicians and other hospital employees to quickly identify their location. “The system helps our clinicians do their job more efficiently which leads to better patient care,” said Clint Abernathy, performance and productivity director at Texas Health Dallas. “We think it’s had a positive impact on employee satisfaction and patient satisfaction.”

The Texas Health Dallas campus is more than 1.6 million square feet, with hundreds of hallways, more than 800 patient rooms and thousands of closets.

“On a campus this size nurses could spend up to 15 percent of their time hunting and gathering equipment, according to national studies,” said Cole Edmonson, DNP, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Texas Health Dallas. “Our goal was to find a technology solution to markedly reduce that time and return it to the professional nurse for direct care activities that could improve patient and nurse outcomes.”

Closets in one area can become a place to store extra wheelchairs, for example, even if they’re not needed at that moment.

“For years, the answer for hospitals was to just buy and rent more equipment,” said Jim Berg, chief operating officer at Texas Health Dallas. “That costs money. What’s worse is that the scramble to find things still goes on.”

The real time location sensing (RTLS) system can be used by both clinical and non-clinical staff. By accessing any computer in the hospital, clinicians and employees can see where any tagged item in the hospital is located in real time.

“The goal was to improve patient satisfaction and eliminate operational inefficiencies,” Berg added. “That’s what we’ve found. This system gives clinicians more time with their patients, which improves patients and staff satisfaction. It makes the hospital experience a better one for both.”

Texas Health Dallas has been able to keep better inventory levels, improve asset utilization, reducing rental expenses, and give staff the ability to find what they need in seconds, Berg added.

By monitoring the usage of rental equipment and providing alerts when rental equipment is sitting idle, Texas Health Dallas has saved about $30,000 a month in rental savings.

“By understanding the actual utilization rates of our resources, we better understand the inventory levels we need on hand, whether future purchases are required, and how to maintain our inventory at optimum levels,” said Mark Meyer, chief financial officer at Texas Health Dallas.

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is an 898-bed acute care hospital and recognized clinical program leader, having provided compassionate care to the residents of Dallas and surrounding communities since 1966. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Texas Health Dallas among the nation’s best hospitals in digestive disorders, orthopedics, and neurology and neurosurgery. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Dallas has approximately 4,000 employees and an active medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Dallas.

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