“Sorry, we have a staffing shortage,” are not the words you want to hear in a healthcare setting. It’s no secret that the pandemic burned out healthcare workers at an extraordinary rate, and hospitals are experiencing an unprecedented HR crisis. Filling the vacancies will take years while new doctors and nurses are trained. But in the meantime, the quality of patient care is suffering, and healthcare needs – yours or a loved one’s – won’t wait.
Some healthcare experts are advocating for a flex-work approach similar to the hybrid workplace many offices have recently instituted. Allowing nurses to work shorter shifts, and to choose those shifts when possible, is already showing promise as a way to retain skilled staff by accommodating a life-work balance.
Technology, too, shows a path toward better patient care with fewer staff. The healthcare sector is already heavily invested in advanced technology, from robotic surgery to electronic medical records (EMR). RFID technology is found in many healthcare settings, where its data-collection capabilities are helping to keep track of pharmaceutical and equipment assets.
RFID tags and readers instantly deliver the answers to important healthcare queries.
- What is it? An RFID tag includes the name of a drug or piece of equipment, the manufacturer’s name, an inventory control number, and other identifying information.
- How many are there? Tags provide a complete, accurate, and fast count of supplies, to avoid shortages.
- Where is it? RFID-tagged equipment and personnel can be tracked in real time moving through a hospital.
- When does it expire? RFID labels include this information; it’s especially important for patient safety, and to avoid wasting expensive drugs that weren’t rotated into use before their expiry date.
As you might imagine, finding these answers manually can be extremely time-consuming, involving multiple healthcare professionals whose time is better spent caring for patients. No one wants to see nurses running through the halls looking for a surgeon or a crash cart.
Moreover, RFID-enabled patient wristbands reduce care errors. Patients’ identities can be confirmed, their treatment plans updated, and their EMR records accessed via RFID and interoperable medical technology.
RFID saves time, reduces errors, and lets healthcare workers devote their time to patient care rather than managing supplies and equipment. It won’t solve the staffing crisis on its own, but there’s no question that it is a vital part of the healthcare personnel solution.
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“Step into the future!” You may be hearing that phrase frequently if the organization you lead is using paper-based processes. Digitizing your paper documents is a smart move, taking information off the paper and making it accessible, secure and very, very compact. But before you take that step, you’ll probably want to know exactly what goes into the document conversion procedure.
Step 1: Assessment
Before any documents are scanned, a digitization team meets with management to learn about the types of paper documents your organization uses, and the types of information those documents contain, such as:
- Customer information
- Contracts and licenses
- Action status
- Payment records
- Corporate records
- Building and facilities information
- PII and any other sensitive information
The assessment establishes document conversion priorities – the order in which documents are digitized – and the timeline for the conversion. It also sets up a chain-of-custody protocol, ensuring the confidentiality and security of documents as they go through the conversion process.
Additionally, the assessment gathers information on the metadata and indexing schemes that will be applied during the scanning process. This is particularly important because it will allow for efficient retrieval of content.
Step 2: Scanning and Metadata Tagging
With the project completely organized, the digitization team begins the scanning process, carefully removing documents from files and scanning them in a high-capacity scanner. OCR scanning software builds searchability into the documents as they are scanned.
Expertly-customized metadata schemes enhance searchability by adding more identifying information to each document, such as:
- Date of creation
- Type of document
- Document owner (individual, department, etc.) and creator
- Document lifespan (date when document can be destroyed)
At the end of the scanning process, each batch of digitized documents is run through Optical Character Recognition, allowing for full text search of key letters, words, or phrases.
Step 3: Export to Content Management Platform
The digitized documents now move to an enterprise content management platform which manages access and activity permissions, file organization, security, and records retention policies. With your paper documents now transformed to digital files, your records managers can remove the bulky paper files and space-consuming filing cabinets from your offices, freeing up space for more profitable activities.
The benefits of digital documents:
- Space-saving, maximizing the workspace and reducing real estate costs
- Searchable, saving time and improving productivity
- Secure, controlling access to sensitive information
- Accessible from multiple locations, keeping in-house and remote workers productive
- Sustainable, reducing paper consumption and waste
With a clear understanding of the conversion process, you can make a well-informed decision. Your organization will start benefiting from digitization as soon as you take the first step.
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More than 45 years ago, an RFID prototype was patented by U.S. engineer and inventor Mario Cardullo, and the new technology began changing the way businesses managed and secured their physical assets. Today RFID is widespread in organizations as diverse as hospitals and mining operations, film studios and retail stores. Now these RFID-enabled companies are asking, “Can my RFID system do more than manage inventory or security?”
Yes, it can. RFID can benefit almost every facet of your business, and if you already have RFID for inventory management, you can find options for applying it in other areas, including:
- Document management
- Tools and supplies management
- Furnishings and equipment management
- Patient record management
- Pharmaceutical dispensary management
- Equipment maintenance schedules
- Product out-of-date schedules
And many more.
Location capability is one of the popular add-ons which RFID users are bolting on to their existing systems. RFID technology excels at “what” (identification) and “how many” (counting). But it also shines as a “where” tool to report on the location of tagged items.
One retailer was successfully using RFID to identify and count their warehouse inventory. When they began offering buy-online pickup-in-store (BOPIS) in their storefront operations, their store associates could not locate in-store inventory quickly enough to meet customers’ pickup deadlines. Working with their RFID provider, the retailer identified a handheld RFID reader that scans shelves directionally, and quickly leads a store employee straight to the searched-for item.
Now the retailer meets its pickup deadlines easily, meeting its customers’ expectations every time. It’s a win for everyone.
Retail isn’t the only sector that benefits from RFID’s location capabilities. Knowing exactly where your employees are makes processes more efficient and improves worker safety. Knowing exactly where to find the right medication improves patient outcomes. Knowing exactly where components are in assembly lines keeps production on track. And those are just a few examples.
Do you already have RFID technology in your operations? Talk to an RFID consultant about ways to make your RFID system work even harder. Your ROI in RFID will increase even more.
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