NEC RFID Controls Temperature and Tracks Assets for Brazilian Hospital

NEC , a network, communications and information technology company, announced that NEC Brasil finished the initial phase of the project traceability, using RFID at the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein (Einstein), a health care institutions in Brazil. The project began in mid-2009 and the solution is a pioneer system in South America, which meets the specific needs of the health care sector, capable of asset tracking and visibility that is tailored specifically for the requirements and regulations of this market.

The solution is customized according to hospital requirements and in this first phase of implementation, NEC installed the temperature control system of refrigerators and the location tracking for a pilot set of 500 pieces of medical equipment. This operates through the hospital's wireless network using the infrastructure that was also previously implemented by NEC. The goal is to release the institution's professionals, who will work in a more agile and efficient way. In addition, the solution will increase the control capacity and direction of internal resources by the hospital administration.

Sergio Arai, Einstein's IT Executive Director explains that the hospital has a large number of refrigerators with different temperatures for each material, such as blood banks, tissue, milk, medicines and more. The different certifications by the hospital require a strict temperature control of these storages ensuring it is in accordance with the local law. Therefore, this verification is done several times a day, requiring significant time out of the employees, who even today often follow up these reports manually.

"With NEC's solution, this process becomes automatic," Arai said. "RFID tags were installed in refrigerators, which constantly measure the temperatures and are directly linked to software that performs all of the management. If there is an anomaly, the system sends instant alerts to those responsible."

Asset tracking of equipment at the facility allows for greater organization of material flow, such as infusion pumps and multiparameter monitors. A tag, indicating the location and conditions of each instrument, is placed in each of the items. The technology maps the movement of equipment over a wireless network, reducing the search time of the instruments and avoiding losses. In addition, the system is able to generate alerts about the status of each material and notify managers when the objects are unavailable, in the stage of cleaning, or needs maintenance.

"Einstein is always ahead in implementing creative solutions. We believe that asset tracking will become a requirement increasingly present in hospitals in the coming years. This solution has already proven to optimizes internal processes," Arai said.

In the second phase of the project, which will be started in 2010, the tracking system will be expanded to other assets of the institution to better manage the flow of patient care procedures.

According to Luiz Villela, GM of Marketing and Business of NEC Brasil, “The health care sector is in great demand for technologies related specifically to the segment, which is important to relieve the health care professionals so they can focus on more important activities. We identified that this specific area of health care is not addressed appropriately compared to others in terms of technologies to support relevant tasks in their daily lives. Therefore, we focus on projects that include RFID technologies and are investing in the expansion of this solution in several institutions in the country."

The solution enables a wide signal coverage, which allows monitoring of large businesses with intense workflows, as Einstein is. There are other advantages of the solution for this market. “The ability to track and view the conditions of refrigerator and other specific equipment within health care organizations allows greater control of internal processes and provides a more balanced management of resources,” Villela said. “This allows for better allocation based on the day-to-day needs of the workers. These advantages substantially reduce costs to managers by optimizing the work of health care professionals and providing efficiency in tracking and usage of equipment."

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