Help! I Can’t Find My OR Supplies!

Innovative RFID Initiative Uses “Smart” Trash Bins in the OR to Track and Manage Supplies

Publish Date: December 15, 2016 | Content Areas: Technology | Tags: Analytics, Cost Management, Inventory Management, Reimbursement, Suppliers, UDI | Formats: On-Demand Recording

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CPE Credit: 1


Tracking and locating surgical supplies and their utilization is a challenge faced by most hospitals. Average supply returns for picked supplies is low and O.R. room in and out traffic to retrieve unavailable items is high, and significant staff hours are spent checking consumption and restocking and locating supplies.

UTMC and DeRoyal have developed and implemented a "smart" radio frequency identification (RFID) trash bin (Continuum OR) that tracks inventory used during a case, charges for that inventory, and shows where items are located in the room in real time. UTMC’s initial studies from 11 orthopedic and neurosurgery rooms have shown that “cashier” duties can be taken away from the circulating nurse, who can then focus on the patient, reduce the amount of supplies wasted and has saved their organization 2 to 3 million dollars.

How this Session Relates to the Cost, Quality, and Outcomes (CQO) Movement:
CQO is the essence of this project. Virtually every business uses technology to track supplies and inventory, and healthcare is joining those ranks. By utilizing RFID technology, healthcare can now reduce costs, improve the quality operating room service and improve patient outcomes. Cost reduction is being realized through automating many of our manual systems, reducing inventory, and automating the ordering of supplies. Quality is enhanced by reducing the opportunity to introduce infection when opening surgical suite doors to retrieve supplies, and allowing nursing to focus on direct patient care. Outcomes are realized not only through the money that is saved, but also in reducing the space needed for supplies, and implementing a chain of custody for supplies.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe RFID and its use in operating rooms
  • Understand the challenges of implementing RFID
  • Become knowledgeable of the scope of RFID technology in reducing costs and automating inventory systems

Presenter: Becky Ashin, BBA, MA, Vice President, Advanced Orthopaedic Center, University of Tennessee Medical Center