Reducing operation waiting times
The initial pilot in the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) day surgery unit enabled the hospital to complete one extra operation per day, equivalent of an additional 672 simple or intermediate procedures per year. This generates an additional unplanned income of between £70,000 and £270,000 per year (depending on the type of procedure). In addition to ensuring the safety and efficiency of the operation process, the system can be used to support other processes such as DVT (deep vein thrombosis) risk assessment, Admission, Discharge &Transfer (ADT) and any other procedures that require identification verification. Similarly, it can be used to help monitor infection linked to patients, beds and staff. Also, if a biopsy or test is undertaken in theatre, the correct patient label can be printed immediately which avoids mislabelling.
Morgan continued: "We have not had a single mistake while using the system. Patients feel more confident as we're taking safety to a higher level. The theatres run more efficiently because there is less waiting time for patients. The accuracy of coding has now increased to almost 100 per cent as the coding is done by the operating surgeon on their PDA at the time of surgery.
What's more staff are been able to spend more time with their patients as a result of less paperwork – further helping to improve patient satisfaction." Following the successful pilot the Trust decided to implement the system throughout the hospital. Today it is used in 4 wards and 4 operating theatres, with plans to extend the roll-out within the next 12 months.
At the launch of "Coding for Success", the advisory document on autoidentification in the NHS that took place at the hospital, Lord Hunt, Minister of State for Quality at the Department of Health, recognised Heartlands Hospital as a leading example of how auto identification can be used to drive quality and safety.
"By pioneering RFID to improve the operation procedure, Heartlands Hospital is raising the bar for patient safety and operational efficiency," added Aileen McHugh, EMEA vertical marketing manager for healthcare at Zebra Technologies Europe. "While the benefits of using RFID in the retail, aerospace and manufacturing sectors have been much talked about, little has been made to date of the possibilities for healthcare. RFID tagging is ideal for patient identification as the wristband can be read without disturbing the patient. The fact that the hospital has experienced no mistakes since the new system's implementation and has been able to carry out more daily operations, demonstrates the reliability of RFID technology and paves the way for other NHS trusts to follow."